The Center for Innovative Cultures: Co-Creating the Organizations of the Future

Nestled in the shadow of Utah's Wasatch Range, tiny Westminster College is quietly building a world-class center for developing and learning about the organization of the future.
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Nestled in the shadow of Utah's Wasatch Range, tiny Westminster College is quietly building a world-class center for developing and learning about the organization of the future.

The newly-formed Center for Innovative Cultures, led by former W.L. Gore associate and current Westminster business professor Michael Pacanowsky, is busy developing a robust agenda of symposia, events and workshops designed to catalyze the new ways of working demanded by the Information Age.

After an initial shakedown cruise last year, the Center recently held its second Tools & Practices Workshop, created to give organizational culture leaders practical techniques that offer immediate value in driving innovative performance cultures.

A diverse international faculty composed of academics, consultants, authors and CEOs with a wide range of backgrounds and experiences came together for an intense day of sharing usable theories and practices. The workshop attracted leaders from the greater Salt Lake City area, including entrepreneurs, non-profit directors, human resource practitioners and executives interested in learning new ways of working.

The highly-rated full day program consisted of a mix of 60-minute and 90-minute modules, designed to be hands-on. Enough theory is usually provided to set the table for small group interaction, where the real learning usually occurs. The benchmark for value is: can participants take the learning from a Friday workshop and apply it on Monday morning?

The 60-minute sections deliver important takeaways with a punch. CEO Jeanne Armbruster shares the secrets of managing polarities (for example, the tension between autonomy and control). Experienced GM Bryan Crowell shows how to implement a kaizen culture where improving work is the culture. Italian business expert and advisor Massimo Gilmozzi delivers instrumented and facilitated real-time change management tools. Professor Clifford G. Hurst pulls two assignments. First, he shares a powerful business model canvas tool to engage teams around new products, markets and lines of business. Second, he shares a self-assessment tool that drives better retention, leadership and culture. Biomedical engineer and consultant Todd Scantlebury delivers three assessment and planning tools to engage people to achieve project clarity and speed. W.L. Gore marketing leader Thom O'Hara unveils the secrets of effective employee sponsorship. Finally, the leader of the Center for Innovative Cultures, Michael Pacanowsky, describes how to steward the evolution of organizational culture.

In the 90-minutes modules, author and change agent Rod Collins shares his expertise in tapping the collective intelligence within groups. Great Work Cultures co-founder Benay Dara-Abrams digs into collaboration methods for distributed teams. Holacracy expert Anna McGrath focuses on effective, integrative decision-making. Professor Vicki R. Whiting dives into maximizing individual performance through personality assessment. Niel Nickolaisen, turnaround specialist and CTO, delivers three specific tools for transformational leaders. Organizational consultant Doug Kirkpatrick shares actionable methods for intelligent self-management.

The day wraps up with a panel discussion with faculty members, surfacing the burning questions that attendees haven't had a chance to ask during the day.

The new Center is off to a great start, beginning with the Greater Salt Lake City leadership community. Like a rock sending ripples across a pond, its supporters and faculty members hope to propagate the tools and practices of innovative cultures as far as possible to help shape the organizations of the future.

Doug Kirkpatrick is the author of Beyond Empowerment, The Age of the Self-Managed Organization. He is an organizational change consultant, TEDx and keynote speaker, executive coach, writer, educator and SPHR.

He played the first season of his business career in the manufacturing sector, principally with The Morning Star Company of Sacramento, California, a world leader in the food industry, as a financial controller and administrator. He now engages with the Morning Star Self-Management Institute, Great Work Cultures and other vibrant organizations and leaders to co-create the future of management. Contact Doug on Twitter @Redshifter3.

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