Maybe you are a start-up that needs to prove to your funders that you can get your product to market, or turn the proof of concept into a market success. Maybe you are a large successful company and can’t build factories fast enough to support your ramp up. Or, perhaps you’ve just merged two organizations with different cultures. How do you get everyone pulling in the same direction, while you are still figuring out what the direction needs to be?

A few years back, two recently acquired and previously fiercely competitive event planning organizations were forced to combine their efforts on a ten thousand person event already three months behind the standard event development timeline. The joint team participated in a facilitated Map Day meeting to clarify who needed to deliver what to whom in order to host an event that met the sponsor’s requirements. There would need to be collaboration and many handoffs between the formerly separate teams. After some discussion about the difference between commitments and estimates, each team committed when they could deliver their front-end deliverables. Progress meetings shifted from explanations for why things were falling behind to focusing on making sure the commitments each team had made could be met.

The event was completed on time, without the usual last minute “crunch time” and the customer was very pleased with the outcome. Project team members from the competing organizations rated the project experience an average of 4.6 out of 5. Not bad for a “team” made up of two organizations who used to try and put each other out of business.

Culture change is often visualized as a lengthy top down, organization wide exercise. Ensemble uses the practice of commitment and accountability on a day to day basis as a way to shift “the way we do things” in an accelerated way. It may produce some breakdowns (things not going the way they were planned) and resolving these is where a new, sustainable, culture begins to take hold.

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