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How to Create a Unicorn Culture in Under a Year


An exciting announcement on my part: Having wrapped up my “Tech-Led Culture” book, I’m looking for 1-2 companies (start-ups or scale-ups) that I can make into a massive success story by revamping their culture and setting them on a path of unicorn-level wins. I’m packing myself alongside our powerful software product in a sort of "Chief Cultural Officer for Hire" position to ensure it becomes the anchor to a new Human Work centred work life for winning enterprises (free license for up to 1000 employees). I want to select the ones who need it the most.


Companies with amazing missions and ambitions who are conscious they need true people-first cultures to compete with Silicon Valley and who want to make history.

I will do this in an exact amount of time - a year’s engagement- and using my expertise and the PeopleNotTech’s Team Dashboard, we can democratise Human Work, rebuild around the Aristotle Google findings and increase productivity, performance and happiness as well as Psychological Safety by at least 15% while having cleaned up masses of HumanDebt.


A Success Obsessed Chief Culture Officer + Google’s Aristotle + Psychological Safety + Data + Software + HumanWork= Cultural transformation in a box

In - unicorn it- out.


An invaluable competitive advantage. The right path human-wise. It’ll supercharge your culture and bring it to unicorn level in under a year.


Having done this before, I am so convinced I can accomplish it with the methodology I have created in the study of my last book and while implementing the PeopleNotTech product in tens of teams, that I am making this success based. If the numbers haven’t increased to at least 15%, you don’t pay the exit fee.


I’ve already reached out to my close network trying to find a PE firm with a unicorn-ambitious portfolio where I could find a few fits. If you’re reading this and know of a tech company that is just about to take the next big step or got an injection of both capital and enthusiasm, I’d love to speak to them. The leads my network generated, are interesting. I’m working my way through them, but I’ll be honest and say I am looking for examples of such incredible cultural transformation that reflects clearly in data both at the productivity and performance level and at the company level KPIs level so that I can -potentially anonymously if branding is not of interest- detail the success stories in my fourth book - “How to Create a Unicorn Culture in Under a Year”. That said, I’m not an Ivory Tower theoretician but a doer, who likes to get her hands dirty and see awesome outcomes.


As we all know, the workplace is mired in crises of leadership, engagement, mental health and burnout that progress is nowhere as fast as we would like it to be and even small companies have a lot of HumanDebt amassed already. Culture is a hot topic discussed everywhere but one that is immensely fluffy, confusing and hard to ever tackle even for those who know they should. If they do, they ask for help at least.


Turning to consultancies doesn’t always move the needle despite their many PowerPoint decks on the theory. McKinsey and other big consultancies come in and tell you all about the “why” and “what” but never the “how”. This is perhaps fine in other areas but when it comes to the nebulous human work- culture, wellbeing, performance, flow, agility, offering no clarity on “how” while having come in under the pretence that you would, actually instantly compounds the problem the enterprise was having in the first place by further breaching trust with the lack of impact.


On the other hand, I put it to us -as I approach 1000 articles on the topic- that we are all talked out and it is now past high time for action. So much so that I am obsessed with the “how” and I’ve tirelessly campaigned for knowledge sharing and dissemination on this topic. At PeopleNotTech we’ve spent a long time creating a wealth of written and video content which is arguably the world’s most complete teams-dynamic-library out there. complete with exact how-to’s that teams and organisations could readily try free of charge and you can find most on our website and YouTube channels.


When it comes to this endeavour now, I’m happy to even make the implementation plan of this culture-supercharge program in a box, public. Happy to open up because the plan -while super clever and effective- won’t work without the person who wrote the book on it to execute, inspire and absolve internal execs of the paralysing fear of failure and ritualise the software to enable the HumanWork. Or it will work but not as well. I know it won’t because we spent the last couple of years trying to empower People Topics Supermen to help us establish a culture of Human Work and use the Dashboard to create a team practice of self-improvement, openness and trust that results in well-being.


I’ve spent the last few years alternating between exasperation and elation watching our tool for the human work that starts with the elements of Psychological Safety navigate political waters and sensitivities and pre-existent immutable blockers of command and control, fearful leadership behaviours and disengagement, all part of the Human Debt.


But the truth is, -and many a coach and therapist will admit this over a pint- that getting people to want to do the work that betters them is extraordinarily hard.

There’s resistance that disables honesty, there’s burnout that disables engagement, there’s dissatisfaction that disables enthusiasm and there’s an overall aversion to even more work in particular on a topic that feels scary to most people.


Humans are rather lazy, let’s face it, and the message that they need to do even more work and will need to do this forever to be able to sustain what was previously a quiet solo performance because it is now predicated firmly on collaboration which is intrinsically human is abhorrent at first to most people in particular “techies” and they’ll object and resist to no end. At least at first. Once they get stuck in the work and they can feel the effect of greater empathy, EQ and emotional connections, they have the most spectacular change of heart and once convinced it is not year another gimmick of the company, employees tend to eventually really take to the Human Work and we always enjoy seeing the obstinate detractors become interested in betterment once they have the data and practice.


So getting people to do the work is hard. Getting people to regularly use our Dashboard and apply themselves to thinking of emotions with the team and then do something to change a specific behaviour is immensely difficult and requires strong resilience and a firm hand.


Getting internal advocates to push it has the potential to turn them into “bad cops” as the work requires regularity and no one enjoys the initial habit formation period of a new practice in particular if it involves using a certain piece of software but there’s no implementation roll-out success to be spoken about in absentia, so having someone in charge of accountability and system acceptance by removing knowledge and mentality gaps is, to my mind, a much less risky solution than trying to train the internal advocates to take on the role of ensuring the Human Work becomes routine.


So let me do the “bad cop” bit. Let me do the tough love when I make myself unpleasant by pestering people to keep their end of the bargain when it comes to feeling and thinking about people.


Let me make myself unpleasant by insisting the retros happen, the time is ring-fenced for the deep human work, the incentives are aligned, the need is clearly communicated and no day passes without at least an incremental increase in EQ at every level of the enterprise.


And let me be equally annoying to all levels of the company as I ask for the same amount of Human Work team and individual level commitment from the management team that I will ask of everyone else.


Let me be politically incorrect and real when I tell people what’s what and ask them to be frank and honest themselves.


Let me ask everyone how they feel and make them feel seen.


Let me remind everyone of their initial kernel of passion and ensure everyone has the emotional intelligence vocabulary and practice to be a better and happy employee.


Let me go after each part of the HumanDebt in the process and attack and dismantle them one by one with the help of your long-suffering HR people and your frustrated Tech and DevOps teams.


And let me come in with all parts knowing when I leave and what I’m there for. None of the nebulosity or the unclarity surrounding some other people projects or people data projects. None of the stilted corporate language, none of the threat to anyone’s existent jobs. You get the picture. Honest, real, effective. Sort your culture topic once and for all and enjoy the speed that the transformation gives you.


There’s more here at www.duenablomstrom.com/ccoforhire and I am open to regional partnerships with a few already in the works so reach out if you’re interested but the growth champions I’m looking for can be anywhere in the world of course, despite how I envision the execution plan to involve a fair bit of in-person work with me as I practically live on planes.


Looking forward to meeting my future unicorns and making their people happy and high performing, come to talk to me and let’s go!

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