In this 3rd post on Appreciative Inquiry and social media I give a case study of how a small business transformed its culture of compliance to a Culture of Kindness (Part 1 here, and Part 2). Magic Mushrooms (MM) produce mushrooms of the high quality but, like so many fresh produce businesses in Australia their people were engaged in a culture of compliance, not Kindness. It was a constant battle to maintain quality and the owner, Brian, was spending seven days a week supervising compliance. But Brian had heard from his cousin Alan, MD of Freshest Fruits, about the work we had been doing with his team to install a Culture of Kindness in his business. For Alan, this had resulted in a transformation in the culture, product and service quality and business outcomes. Here is Magic Mushroom's story.
Brain said to me - "I want what Alan’s got, now". This delivered me the privilege of facilitating an Appreciative Inquiry Growth Summit with Brian and his team.
Appreciative Inquiry Growth Summit - engaging everyone
We started by engaging Brian's team in an authentic conversation around their natural strengths, using the DNA Natural Talents Profiles. They explored how to engage the strengths of all team members for most of the time and adapt behaviours according to the Platinum Principle - "treat others as they want to be treated".
The team built a Collaborative Behavioural Code based on the behaviours of kindness. (Incidentally, the word kindness comes from the same root as the word value; so why don't we map kindness in business?) What was really cool was that Brian didn't just limit the talent profiling to his executive team. He included the ground floor staff including the Thai mushroom pickers and African farm labourers in the conversations - he treated them as partners. Suddenly, the team was operating on a different level together. Conversations were open, authentic and trust began to replace distrust.
Sharing the dream
But then, just as suddenly, the world changed. The supermarkets began a price war, slashing the price of mushrooms and other fresh produce. Brian's first reaction was to pull in costs and focus on cuts, not growth. He said to me - can we run an Appreciative Inquiry Summit with the whole team and talk about how we can survive?
It was a great breakthrough to include all his people in the issue. But what about the topic, would this engage people to grow? I said to Brian - what will you say to your grandchild in twenty years when she asks you - what did achieve with your life through your business - and you reply that you spent your life taking out cost and surviving? Is that what we are here for?Brain looked at me and said – if I am doing that in twenty years I might as well shut the business down now. I asked if there was anything that he would love to be remembered for in business and he told me of his dream. He said that he was concerned about the rising obesity levels amongst kids in Australia and the unhealthy eating habits. He said that he dared to dream that one day MM would be known as the first mushroom business to engage Australia’s young kids to turn around their eating habits and transform health and lifestyle for the next generation of kids.
Building the future story
Jeremy Scrivens is a Guest Blogger, Work Futurist, and Principal of The Emotional Economy At Work whose work involves mentoring business leaders to engage more of their people emotionally on a shared journey of contribution, resulting in sustainable profits, achievement of vision, business goals and happy staff because they are engaged from who they are to be all they could be. Contact Jeremy @jeremyscrivens Linkedin: /jeremyscrivens
Hear Jeremy speak on this topic at our Business Leaders Luncheon February 27th, in Melbourne. Free, by invitation only.