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What is the smell of your organisation?

What is the smell of your organisation?

Take a moment to think about culture. What is it? Think about explaining this to someone that asked you this question. How would you do it?

What about culture change? How would you explain that?

In a session at CIPD’s Annual Conference and Exhibition in Manchester this week, DPG’s Mike Collins summed it up well. Culture, is down to the ‘smell of the place’. It could be a smell must like a field of beautiful flowers. Equally, it could be the sickening, stomach churning smell not dis-similar to that of a household rubbish dump. This presentation lasted just five minutes. It was in the Ignite format where presenters deliver a five-minute session using 20 automatically advancing slides lasting just 15 seconds each.

Take just five now to watch this and consider the smell of your place.

What’s your thoughts? Is there too much Febreze being used to mask bad smells?

E-mail me when people leave their comments –

Ady Howes - Community Manager, DPG

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  • Really enjoyed your presentation Mike. It was a pleasure to be there to see this. I love this explanation of what culture means. I like the idea of culture being like the smell of an organisation. This has really helped and sits with me.

    I can relate to this in previous experiences. Working as a consultant contracted to clients, one of the first missions when working with new clients was to scope, assess, analyse etc before diving into solution recommendation mode. Going to into a client for the first time, it was interesting to witness the different smells of different organisations. Another way this has come to light is working in organisations where I've been either remotely working or out and about on the road most of the time rather than in a fixed location. Because you don't visit the office on a regular basis in these situations, you seem to have a 'nose' for things especially where culture has shifted. It feels easier sometimes to smell things than those in the thick of things who may not have noticed the smell changing over time. Or perhaps they've got used to the smell.

    I'm interested in tips on climbing the slope of enlightenment you mention. Gartner Hype Cycle, Fisher's Transition Curve, in fact any change model shows a low point occuring. Those times where emotions are high, frustrations are present always, concerns, fears, confidence issues, tension and even a bit of storming occur. Sure, we're all adults and we should be moving through this stuff ourselves, but people can easily be stuck in a rut at this point and just simply need a leg up.

    What works best? How do you work through this stuff? Who's job is it to do that? What's the role of HR and L&D in all this?

  • Nice one Mike, you ACE'd it!

    • Cheers Peter it was a lot of 'pun' to deliver ;)

  • I've used a similar presentation method called 'PechaKucha' which was devised by Japanese architects to speed up their often boring methods. Its an art in itself keeping up to speed with the slides!

    • Hi Alexander. How did you find it? I loved the format but it's very fast paced. We had the debate about number of slides and timings 

      Apparently during this debate someone provided evidence that....

      IGNITE = 20 slides 15 seconds a slide 

      PECHAKUCHA = 15 slides with 20 seconds a slide 

      Both fast paced and as you say an art form in themselves to deliver well. 

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