Years ago, we came across research from some Harvard professors who talked about “deliberately developmental organizations.”
After digging into the topic, we realized that the culture they’re describing is in direct alignment with who we are and increasingly aspire to be — and probably what you want your culture to be too.
Wouldn’t you love to be a part of an organization that was deliberately devoted to the development of its people?
Those Harvard professors — Robert Kegan and Lisa Lahey — put out an in-depth and informative study on Harvard Business Review that shines a light on what a deliberately developmental organization (DDO) looks like and how a DDO leads to great success in an organization and the lives of its people.
To put it simply, DDOs “systematically work at creating the conditions to drive human flourishing and business flourishing as part of one interdependent and mutually reinforcing set of goals.” In a DDO, the major design features of the company are “in deep alignment to promote individual development throughout the organization.”
As Kegan and Lahey write, personal development and profit aren’t two different aims or even two sides of the same coin. In fact, they’re so deeply interconnected that a high-performing culture needs both at the core of its existence in order to be truly high performing.
The Harvard research points out several other characteristics of a DDO:
- DDOs “provide places for people to flourish.”
- In a DDO, the company destigmatizes (and even celebrates) making mistakes.
- A DDO declares that pain plus reflection equals progress.
- In a DDO, there’s a constant effort to expose and close the gaps between people, rather than allow them to widen.
- Individual, personal development is not a separate activity, or an “additive” to the business engine, it is an essential and integrated component of the business engine.
- All employees in a DDO are expected to contribute to the shaping of the culture.
We always say that no matter what company, team, organization, or group you’re a part of, a culture exists even though you may not realize it. Your family even has a culture, whether you’ve set out to intentionally make one or not.
We have a culture at the Seahawks, too, as you might’ve noticed. Our culture is all about helping people find their best. The heart of every coach, player, and support staffer is to help others grow, develop, and find their best. Our staff takes the “developmental oath” at the start of every season; they commit to developing each person around them. So that’s why the topic of DDOs resonates with us so powerfully. Without using those exact words, we’ve always strived to be a DDO. Well before we understood there was such a thing as a DDO, we’ve been focusing on the development of our people.
Why not strive to create the atmosphere of a DDO in your office? Your sports team? Your home? It’s a powerful way of living life and one that leads to finding your best.
“The culture you create is your strategy,” Kegan and Lahey say, “and the key to success is developing everyone.”
Co-founder, Compete to Create