Culture Hacks - Simple and practical game changers

The Hack Series begins with Hack #1 - Human connection

A few weeks ago I shared the first in a series of blogs that will provide practical tools to improve inclusion in the work place. If you haven’t read the first in this series, you can click here. But don’t worry, you don’t need to have read it to understand the first of the ‘hacks’ that we promised to share.

When opening the workshop that the first blog referred to we asked people to share their biggest challenges in Diversity and Inclusion. There were two common themes – reach and impact. How do we reach everyone in our organisation with our message and how do we ensure it has impact? Reaching peoples’ minds with impact; in a way that finds them wanting to do something differently tomorrow than they did today? And then providing them with practical and ‘easy to practice’ tools to make it happen?

So just what is a ‘hack’. In this context

......a hack is something that you can do to solve a problem or task more quickly, simply and efficiently that you might have thought....

By sharing hacks with leaders and their teams, we provide practical and do-able actions that, when practiced, become habits that have positive impacts on culture – in diversity and inclusion and much more.

Let’s get into it. HACK #1 is a great one to kick off a medium to large group meeting. When people enter a room, they will typically sit with people that they are comfortable with. I like letting people spend a good part of their day with those they feel belonging with so this works.

It is important though to help them find ways to widen their circle of belonging. Get to know others in a way that is comfortable and fun. To start Hack #1, you (the facilitator) number off the people in the room. Like teachers did to choose teams back in school, give each person a number between 1 and 4 very quickly going from one person to the next. Resist the temptation to point at each person with your pointer finger – the subtleties of non-verbal communication suggest that we can achieve equal clarity with eye contact and a nod, or an open-palm.

Ask each group to go to a corner/section of the room where you have fixed a sheet of flip chart paper to the wall (with corresponding numbers on it). As the groups to introduce themselves one at a time with their name and role and either an interest that they have. If your group already knows one-another challenge them to share something the group might not already know about them. Give them 2-3 minutes to complete this task. As they are doing that, go around the room and hand a flip chart marker to one member of each group. On completion ask the groups to stay where they are and give them 1 minute to come up with a name for their team based on the conversations they’ve just had and to write their team names in large letters on their poster.

Ask them to stay where they are and then ask each group to state their team name and explain how they chose it. Once all groups have finished, ask the groups to reflect for a moment on whether they smiled or laughed during that activity? Did they get to know someone a little bit more? Do they feel a bit more relaxed and connected than they did before. Invite them to be seated again.

Once seated, point out to groups that they have a lot of brightly coloured sticky notes and marker pens on their table (which you’ll of course have organised prior!). Invite them to take the challenge of putting as many words as possible on as many sticky notes as possible in two minutes. Start the timer and as leader spend your next two minutes encouraging people by reminding them that there are no ‘rights and wrongs’, give them time updates and read out the odd note as a thought starter.

At the end of the activity, ask people to collect their sticky notes, return to their teams and stick all of their notes to their flip chart posters. Encourage them to do this quickly and stay with their groups.

Once complete ask for 2 volunteers from each team to read out all of the notes on their charts. Ask each group to give a clap to the other groups as they finish.

At the end, either seated or still standing as groups to reflect. What if our workplace practiced using these words? Doing these words? Would it be an even better place to be?

As leaders we have the opportunity to bring those words to life in a range of ways to support a workplace that is positive, inclusive and healthy.

Clients I’ve had have implemented the following ideas:

  • Place the flip chart sheets on walls in staff rooms or common areas

  • Key all of the sticky note words into a spreadsheet and identify the top 5 or 10. Those words can then be used as ‘word of the week’, themes for celebrations, contributors to events and future workshops.

  • Create a poster or word cloud with the most popular themes.

  • Link your words into client and employee communication ‘why we love working at …..’

  • Revisit it once a year

It seems simple, but Hack #1 - Healthy and Happy Workplaces is activity can arm you with some extremely handy language and tools to keep people connected around what makes work a good place to be! And connection leads to inclusion.

Interested in your own ‘Hackathon’?

Get in touch at or hang out until you see Hack 2 hit your desktop.

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