A Bump in the Culture Road 

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This is another blog in the series on culture transformation following my experience as Chief Culture and Transformation Officer at NorQuest. As promised it will be real and transparent including the good, bad and ugly (without sharing material confidential to the college). 

The Challenge: One reason the culture transformation at my last organization was regarded as successful had a lot to do with the capability, commitment and support of the CEO. He was remarkable. The same principle held true in my deciding whether to contribute at the college. The President, Dr. Jodi Abbott, has proven to be an innovative and action oriented leader. With her vision and support, the chances for culture advancement increase materially. This past week Jodi resigned to take another opportunity. Uh oh! (At a personal level, I fully applaud her decision btw). Congratulations to Jodi! At the same time this is a “speed bump” regarding one big assumption in the transformation plan. 

What Am I Going to Do About It?: Jodi is not leaving until January, and the Board of Directors has fully endorsed our strategy. The current culture plan based on following up to the intensive investigative listening campaign undertaken by the Culture Champions remains foundational. Regardless of who the next President is, taking action on what we’ve heard from the college community is important. Furthermore, applying the 10 elements as a framework is solid and we will continue to apply a unique recipe at NorQuest. In the spirit of openness, where we have to give much more thought to is the depth and speed of the purpose and value work underway. The President needs to be the number one model and purveyor of both. So stay tuned regarding what we’ll do and learn about navigating this situation. This a good reminder that every transformation journey will have curves and swerves. Key people come and go. Strategic environments can change overnight. It could be a public policy directive or a merger/acquisition, etc. And that is the interesting, yet messy aspect of applying culture intentionality. At the same time, the primary purpose of focusing on culture, is to improve an organization’s ability to be highly adaptive in the best possible way. This is an opportunity to demonstrate our resilience. I will keep you posted.

Think Big, Start Small, Act Now. 


One Millennial View: This will be a great journey to follow. While the challenges are new and unexpected, the shake up is an interesting surprise that will make for more compelling chapters to this story. I look forward to hear how it’s navigated as the new President is introduced. 

– Garrett 

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Edited and published by Garrett Rubis