Edge + Home + Groove = An Everyone Culture

I read a book about Becoming A Deliberately Developmental Organization (DDO), called “An Everyone Culture.”

It was the title that attracted me first. I am putting so much of my energy into culture work and the thinking behind workplace culture.

I know that the success we have had on our culture journey is when we steer the focus away from The Great Leader and toward everyone, indeed anyone – choose a colleague randomly and you can synthesize some gold from their approach, attitude, their mindset. We expect the gold, and it appears. We trust everyone to deliver.

I was invited to a discussion of the topic of DDOs with one of the book’s authors by The Refinery here in Vancouver, the event visual graphic of which is the header image.

The learning and development principle used as a start point is that adult learning is optional. Intentionality creates the environment where people can develop. I was very present, having spent years rebuilding my lifelong learner muscle.

I know that as I challenge my own preconceptions and encourage the team to challenge mine and theirs too, the work gets better, more meaningful, more profound, that it has the potential to make (though not always the outcome of) a bigger organizational impact.


I then read the book and made a bunch of notes. I will share my Top 10 learning listicle later….

There are several rich reflective moments in this book; and also a conundrum or two.

The fundament of a DDO is the balance between three drivers:

  • Edge – where we get our challenge – we sponsor an intentionality to grow and learn, a drive for self-improvement
  • Home – where we get our support – so that we can prosper in times of failure, weakness, vulnerability
  • Groove – where we build practices – create feedback loops and agenda item to embed what we learn.

The book quotes its author, Robert Kegan: “The rest is conversation.”


I have worked at the edge for several years now. I sponsor creative tension in the workplace. The edge is the new core. For example, a current research area I have is data analytics and sensor feedback loops in our products, even though I know nothing about the operational life of our products. It is far-fetched, absurd almost. Consequently, it is the (fail forward) work at hand…

I know I need to change. Always and every day. Disaffection and burnout are most likely from a lack of personal development, not excessive workload or the need to learn/unlearn/relearn. A high stim workplace introduces a healthy stress!

There are “new incomes,” the book notes: personal satisfaction, meaningfulness, happiness. Perversely, happiness as a process of development involves the experience of loss, pain and suffering. It is hard work. It is handed on a plate to none of us.

I also know the organization needs to change (and not because I see something that others don’t. It is just a given.)

The 20th century organization determined that if its people wanted people to grow/change they could introduce an external additive: a coach, a course etc. Never was it assumed that the org itself needs to change! No longer. We should be working for organizations that are in a constant state of flux.

The book has details of organizational assessment for “DDO-ness” which is a useful conversation starter.


And the conundrum to all this? Well, one of the cornerstones of the research for the book was the DDO-ness of Bridgewater, the world’s largest hedge fund. A company that lives definitely in the near future, and in a state of constant flux. So much so that it is currently hell-bent of replacing most of its workers with machines!

A current political polemic is that, maybe, the world is changing and morphing too quickly for us all. The rise of nationalism and isolationalism are dividends of the constant squeeze for more and faster and newer. Maybe the course of history and change will implode in a cloud of Luddite revivalism.

So, I am not sure that “becoming deliberately developmental” is a cure-all. The end might be nigh for us all anyway(!) But if we are optimistic and seeking, then it is a means to align the purpose and needs of individuals, teams and organizations in turbulent times. It is worth a shot.

←This Much We Know.→


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