The Role of Culture in Enabling Business Strategy and Human Potential

Francine MacInnis, Executive Director of Talent Management and Organizational Development/People and Culture at CBC/Radio was a speaker at the Strategic Talent Management & Leadership Development Canada, which was held in Toronto, ON in July 2011. This is a recap of the presentation and challenges/solutions presented within.

Ms. MacInnis is a Clinical Psychologist by training, so it was natural for her to think about personalities in her talent management role. CBC Radio has 10,000 employees across Canada, they work with over six unions and do business in two primary languages. Their main lines of business are TV, radio, online and mobile media.

Ms. MacInnis contends that talent management experts also need to be anthropologists. They need to understand how a culture works through direct experience but, just as important, they need to understand the culture by stepping back and observing.

Ms. MacInnis likened her perspective to those taught in the martial art of Jujitsu, pointing to a basic principle of harnessing the movement that is already present. Her suggestion to the audience was to ask, “Where is the movement that is naturally created from your business strategy?”

The Canadian people own the CBC, so there is a need to be very transparent with the public. In response to this need, they created a YouTube video on CBC entitled “Everyone. Every Way.”.

This marked the first time in the organizations history that they had launched a 5 year strategic plan, since – based on the way their funding works – they only know one year at a time what their budget will be. That limitation made it difficult to be strategic and innovative.

Regional content is a large part of the strategic plan, as they see diversity as a key to reaching the vast audience segments within Canada. One of the underlying messages they wanted to relay is that they are there in some way for all Canadians.

Key Question for Learning:  How to reach all employees in a meaningful way?

Over the last two years, CBC has run 750 people through an eight day program with the goal  of inspiring leaders to think about more ways to reach the varied segments of Canadian’s audiences. One problem they faced was that regional programs are hard to run when there is a big news story, such as a natural disasters or other major global occurrence that consumes the company’s entire focus.

An employee survey identified that recognition is an issue. The legacy response rate was never more than 51%. The CEO got behind a new approach and asked to know what is on the hearts and minds of the CBC employees. They called the survey “Dialogue,”  with the idea that branding that reflected back and forth communication would be impactful. They also built a governance structure to drive the survey and to move forward on actions initiated by responses.

Talent management and organizational development are only four years old initiatives for the CBC. They created a program called “Challenge Us” that was designed to breed constructive challenges in a structured environment where participants are invited to attend.

One of the outcomes was that the leaders created a Facebook page for CBC. The participant group created it and called it Leaders Without Titles; a program that, while fun, is scary territory.

Mark Walker is a director at i4cp and represented HRM Today as the official blogger for the Talent Management & Leadership Development Canada.

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