This week on the podcast…
Scott Burton MBA, CVPM joins Dr. Andy Roark to discuss the economics and emotions of workplace culture. They talk about the impact of culture on veterinary teams, veterinary clients and even in discussing cost of veterinary care.
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ABOUT OUR GUEST:
Scott Burton is the Hospital Administrator of Southern Regional Veterinary Specialists and Southern Regional Veterinary Emergency Services. Scott also prides himself on being a scholar-practitioner as he currently works on completing his doctorate in executive leadership.
The fourteen years of administration experience combined with his formal education (BA in Bible and Theology, MBA in human resources, CVPM certification, and Doctoral work/dissertation research) give Scott a unique perspective that will continue to be an asset to those around him. Before his time in veterinary medicine, Scott had extensive exposure to the financial sector as the Assistant Vice-President of a community bank. He served as the IT security officer and was in charge of consumer construction lending. His leadership skills were also recognized while he served as a personal banker with Bank of America and was recognized for his sales and leadership capacity. Scott transitioned into veterinary medicine primarily due to his wife’s experience as a licensed veterinary technician.
As a hospital administrator, Scott learned about the complex ecosystem in the veterinary hospital and the delicate balance required to generate interdependent relationships. The development of this ecosystem perspective has guided him through his doctoral research and continues to function as an illustration of cultural continuity.
Scott’s leadership model focuses on the inner nature of the individuals within the organization. His passion for creating a positive culture is more than “Friday Pizza” and involves an in-depth analysis of the emotional intelligence and vertical development of those he leads.
Scott is married to his best friend of almost twenty years (married 16) and has four beautiful children (all under 9). We enjoy campfires, smores, and hotdogs while we play soccer or bocce ball in the backyard. We also have two Greyhounds and one German Short-Hair Pointer.
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Welcome everybody. This is the Uncharted Veterinary Podcast. Guys, I'm here with a special bonus episode. I am here with the one and only Scott Burton. Scott is an MBA-certified vet practice manager, he is working on his PhD in leadership, he has got a ton to say about culture. We get into culture as it affects the team, as it affects the clients, and we even touch a bit on the culture as it comes to talking about money in our team and with our pet owners.
So guys, I hope you're going to enjoy this. I think Scott's really, really interesting guy. Boy, he knows the research backwards and forwards. Get your pens and papers ready if you want resources. I grabbed them, I put links in the show notes to the things that he talks about, but man, get ready for a lot of information on culture from a very academic interesting place, coming at ya.
Without further ado, let's get into this episode. But before we do, I got to tell you real fast, this episode is made possible, add free, by CareCredit. Let's go.
And now the Uncharted podcast.
And we are back. It's me Dr. Andy Roark and my friend Scott Burton, hospital administrator. Scott, how are you?
Hi, I'm doing just fine. Thank you so much for having me today.
Oh man, I'm glad that you're here. So every now and then I like to step out and have conversations with other people in the industry who talk about business and think about business and vet medicine in interesting ways. And you fall into that category for me. You have an interesting background, for sure. You have a theology degree. Is that how you majored, in theology? Is that true?
Yeah, so my undergraduate was in Bible and Theology and I minored in Youth Ministries, and so people have always been important to me. It's been very important to me and just their wellbeing. And from a spiritual level, ultimately, very compassionate about where people end up eternally. So from the spiritual side of things where I ended up. And then my master's in Business Administration, I focused on Human Resources. So that was the physical aspect of just people in the work environment and understanding how that plays into things and just the overall wellbeing of individuals.
Gotcha. You have an MBA and a CVPM. You worked with Bank of America for a while. You were the Hospital Administrator at Southern Regional Veterinary Specialist in Dothan, Alabama, and you're working on a PhD in Executive Leadership, mostly focused on culture, is what it sounds like to me. Is that correct? I mean there's a lot of language around that, but that's what it feels like to me. Explain that a little bit.
So essentially what I'm going to be doing for my dissertation is looking at culture in the veterinary space and culture is much broader than veterinary medicine and it goes outside of veterinary medicine, and it's really important in all organizations or any groups of people, whether it be the church, whether it be veterinary hospitals or a Fortune 500 company. And Edgar Schein has done extensive research on organizational culture and leadership and how those things fit together at infancy, an organization does have some flexibility in their culture and they're defining it and it's kind of fluid, but after a period of time it becomes very rigid and Schein outlines that stagnation period occurs and there's some concrete that sets in and organizations fail to adapt. And I think that we've seen that with COVID-19, leaders are not prepared for the unexpected.
So what culture is, or what I want to look at, is how we can have an adaptive culture where we have individuals who are coming in to our organization, we have turnover rates and our culture changes as individuals change. Our experience is different, what we've lived through is different. And so our culture has to change for those individuals. We can't stay stagnant. But if we do, what we're doing is we're asking those individuals to conform to the standards that we have already preset. It's probably best to go ahead and start with the definition of what culture is.
So I'm going to frame this before we dive into culture overall. And so just one of the things I think is interesting about you is, I'm looking at trends and problems and patterns, challenges facing our industry and there's busyness, there's staff shortages, there's burnout, sort of rising prices for pet owners and things like that. And one of the things I think is really interesting about you, which I really want to talk about today is, your response to this is culture, culture, culture. And I'm a huge believer in positive work culture and defining a good culture in the practice and things like that.
You explicitly tag these problems with culture as a solution. And so before you start to unpack culture, I kind of want to just lay that down of what I'm looking at and the reason that I wanted to have you here and dive into this is, I want to understand how you look at those things. So I do agree, I think defining culture in your words at the beginning, I think it's really useful, so do that for me, but then go ahead and let's start to unpack how you see culture as a solution to these very real problems that are pretty common right now.
And then that's part of what I'm trying to understand with my dissertation and the research that I'm going to be conducting is really trying to get to the root of the issue and understanding what exactly is the underlying cause of some of these things or phenomenon that's occurring in veterinary medicine. But the definition of culture that I adhere to is again from Edgar Schein and it's a pattern of basic assumptions invented, discovered or developed by given group as it learns.
So the assumption there is that culture is not just a mission statement at the front of a book. It's not pizza on Fridays. But it is a consistent message from leadership, to develop and nurture individuals and their function within the organization. So it's woven into everything that we do in our daily work life.
Take that and bring it down for me and help me see what that looks like. I hear the words and I'm going, okay, I agree, it's not donuts and coffee, it's not a frilly mission statement. Bring that around and take me to a hypothetical practice where I can see what that looks like.
I'm not going to use the word culture. So the environment, it's probably best illustrated through an ecosystem. And Bolton, through complexity theory, talks about or frequently uses ecosystems to describe diversity. And so if we're looking at a practice and the way the practice functions, we want to, of course, foster that diversity because in diverse environments we have the most advantage for sustainability.
But when it comes to just day-to-day life, what we see, and I'm sorry to be quoting so many different books, but An Everyone Culture, by Kegan, and it has really struck me in my thinking about just the way that we function and operate, because we all have weaknesses and when we come into an organization we try to hide those weaknesses. So when we're hired to do a job, we're essentially doing two jobs. One, we're doing the job we were hired to do, and secondly, we're hiding our weaknesses.
So we're spending 50% of our time hiding our weaknesses and spending the other 50% of the time doing the job that we were hired to do. So we've come into, and it's natural, it's a survival instinct, we don't want to be fired, we don't want to lose our job, we don't want to lose our position, we want to impress, so what if in a veterinary practice we said, “You know what? I want to know what your weaknesses are.” And we focus on those weaknesses and then we start developing those individuals.
Let me ask you about that. I love it. So it's owning the whole person, is kind of what it sounds like. So taking that, we all have strengths and weaknesses, I'm a huge believer in that. I think my thing has always been trying to figure out what my strengths are and how to lean into them. And then in other people trying to put in them into positions to really emphasize their strengths over trying to necessarily correct their strengths. Are you saying that as we sort of identify this and we put them into a framework, is this about fixing or patching weaknesses, or is this about shielding people and putting them into advantageous positions for their own skillsets? Help me understand that.
Well actually Amy Edmondson is great, I don't know if you're familiar with Psychological Safety, but she is a great proponent of developing an arena or an environment where individuals feel safe to be able to have open dialogue and discussions with their superiors without fear of retaliation or any kind of retribution. And so if we're creating these safe spaces so that employees can come to us and say, “Hey listen, I'm really struggling with interacting with clients. I'm just not getting it”. And so instead of that individual shying away from the client interactions, they're coming to leadership and saying, “Hey, I really need help with this”. They're no longer hiding who they really are. They may have a personality conflict or a personality issue that limits them emotionally or psychologically that just keeps them from having those interactions and barriers. But knowing what those weaknesses are, we can put them in a role, like you said, where they can shine, where they can stand out instead of putting them in a position where they're uncomfortable or a position where they're destined to fail.
So instead of trying to fill spots, we need to know our individuals well enough to be able to put them in the right place. And so to me, when we look back at Edgar Schein's definition, it's a pattern of basic assumptions invented, discovered, that's that discovery portion, or developed by a given group as it learns. So we're going to be learning together. So leadership needs to be open to learn and the individuals in our environment need to be open to learn. And we need to have a two-way dialogue, two-way discussion where individuals can come to us, we can come to them and we can talk about what's really going on with people and their lives. The days of being able to hang problems at the door as we walk into work, those are over.
I'm going to come back to that. Okay, you kind of blew my mind. The one thing I have to ask you first, and then I'm going to come back to hanging our problems at the door when we come in, because I'm going to need you to unpack that for me a second.
I'm going to be vulnerable here for a second and say one of the things that's bothered me about my own business for years is that I have always been such a big believer in getting people in and seeing what they're good at and adapting to their strengths. And the pushback that I have gotten a little bit internally is, and it comes from a good place as some people say, but Andy, we need to have job descriptions to hire and people need to come in and we need to know what they're going to do and then we're going to hire them and then we need to set clear expectations for what they're going to do. And I a hundred percent hear that.
But in practice I have never made a hiring job description that ended up being what the person actually did, and pardon me, but I've been pretty successful at getting people in and retaining them and really growing some rock stars. I take no credit for that other than not getting in their way, that's it, that's as much as I brought to the table was, ideally I like to think I put them in a place where they could shine and stayed out of their way.
But I have felt less than, at times in the past, for not having a clearly defined job description, having a role, having a spot, hiring this person and clipping them into the spot and having them effective, this is what you're doing. I always bring it in.
We just went through a period, so in our business we've gone to an expansion recently and I'll just be honest, there's a lot of times when people look at me and go, but Andy, whose job is it to do this thing? And I'm like, I don't know yet. Ask me in two weeks and I'll know whose job it is, but right now I don't know. And I felt embarrassed about that. So Scott, tell me, first of all, am I off base here? Does that kind of track with what you're saying as far as adapting to the people that are there? How do you look at that when I say it? And feel free to tell me, yes, you're off base, Andy, you should have job descriptions and stick to them from the very beginning.
So multiple things, you hit on multiple things there, and we could probably spend the rest of the time just dissecting what you said right there. But you're looking at several different factors. So do you need a job description so people know what to expect? Of course you do. But at the same time, when you're hiring somebody, what it sounds like you're doing is you're hiring based on culture fit and people know you, people know your hospital and they're coming to you because they know what you stand for, they know what your hospital stands for and they say, I want to be a part of that.
They're not necessarily coming for the job description, they're coming for the culture that you have created. And that's what we need to do as leaders and practice owners is we need to establish our culture such, and it's not a brand, but we need to establish our culture such that people desire or want to be a part of what we're trying to do. We've established something that feels good and it's not a feel good to feel good, it's not a warm fuzzy feel good, but it feels good because you're part of something and we all have this innate desire to be part of something special.
And so what I'm hearing from you is that you have created this environment that people want to be a part of and they want to stay a part of it. On the flip side, what I'm hearing is that you have employees that may be wondering, “Hey, I don't know who is supposed to do what”. So we need to define these functions. And I'm also a believer in that if we have these functions that need to be done, we're all in this together. We're all on the same ship. If we have a hole in the ship, are we just going to point fingers and see who's going to plug the hole or are we just going to dive on the hole and try to keep us from sinking? And that's a pretty extreme example, but if our culture is such, we care enough about each other's survival in the practice, and survival's probably a strong word, but if we can care enough about each other, it shouldn't matter. It shouldn't matter. Because of eventually at some point the tables will turn and it'll be received instead of given.
Yeah. So in this example, what happens is ultimately we do end up with clear expectations. It just takes some time after new people come in and we move things around and we figure out how to fit people in. And so ultimately we get to that place of clear expectations. So let me ask you about something you said earlier on. So coming from here is what I'm describing to you, so imagine these people coming in and they're rock stars and we're putting them in, we're trying them in some different areas, we're seeing where their skills are, what they seem to like, where they excel. And we're kind of shuffling some seats on the bus around a little bit on who does what to get the strongest skillsets where they can really shine. And so there is some uncertainty there as we move things around and fit people in. And then ultimately we sort of crystallize and turn these into nuclear expectations.
At the beginning of the podcast you jumped right in and started talking about culture and stagnation. Is this an example in your mind of periods of stagnation and breaking through stagnation where you say, this is how we interact with each other and now we have new people coming in and so if there's going to be some uncertainty that feels like there's no path out of stagnation without uncertainty in my mind. Do you agree with that? Is that an example of what you were talking about or am I off base?
Stagnation would be more, I'm not open to changing. So stagnation would be leadership taking the mindset that we have created this, we're not open to looking at a change, we're not open to developing any more change. We are what we've created and this is who we're going to stay, which for a particular culture, that's okay, I mean you can develop a culture but you also have to understand that individuals change. And so if you're maintaining a similar culture, that's okay, but if you're saying you have to fit this mold, that's not okay. So that would be the stagnation point.
It sounds like you are talking about culture as this sort of… I don't want to say culture as a process to you. It sounds like you are talking about an ever-changing fluctuating thing. I think a lot of people like to think, I know I've had these thoughts in my past, I'm going to get a good culture established and then I will have a good culture and from then on we will protect that culture. And what you're kind of saying is, no, it doesn't work that way buddy. You're always going to have a changing culture and so you better keep trying to keep it positive, but also know your culture this year is going to be different than it was last year. Is that true?
Yes, it is very true. And so one of my professors, Dr. White, mentioned to me just recently that any change in culture, especially if you're trying to incite change, can take up to three years to actually implement and take place. With that is going to require leadership to be constantly monitoring and to have a strategic plan in place as far as where we are and where we're going. Culture can happen accidentally, but good culture doesn't happen overnight, and it's not set it and forget it. It is an ongoing process that never ends.
So if we're under the assumption that we have arrived as a culture, again, that's where we fall victim to that stagnation and our culture will immediately start to decline. Edgar Schein goes on to say that if we don't manage culture, culture will manage us. And if you look at some of the hospitals that are struggling with it, if they're truly transparent and honest with themselves, what they have done is they have focused on the processes of what needs to happen. I need a person, I need a warm body, I need somebody to draw blood. They hire the person to draw blood, they're meeting that immediate need, but the long-term need of that culture is sacrificed. And when they sacrifice that culture, it makes it harder to hire that next person.
When you talked about managing culture, I hear that. You've also talked about asking people to leave their personal issues at the door, that's not how it works anymore. And so I want you, as we talk about managing culture, I want you to go back to that statement and sort of unpack that for me as well because I think a lot of people have said, I know it sounds cold-hearted when people say, look, leave your personal things at the door. What they're really saying is, they're trying to figure out how to reduce drama and extra emotion inserted into the practice. And so it sounds like a good idea to tell people don't bring your personal issues to work, come to work and be at work and then go home and be at home. And I a hundred percent can understand that. Talk to me a little bit about your perspective on that. So you don't like the idea that we leave our personal issues at the door? Tell me more.
Yeah, I can just tell you from personal experience. This past month my children were ill with the flu. I had the flu, my wife had the flu. It was incredibly difficult and we had to depend very heavily on our staff and our hospital to help carry us through that. And they were very understanding and very gracious in allowing us, and I say allow us, because we didn't hear any grief from them, we didn't hear any complaining from them regarding our absence when we were ill or taking care of our sick children. That was outside of the practice, but it affects the practice.
And so we cannot ignore the fact that we have lives outside of practice. The whole work-life balance thing has become almost trite that it's said so much. And when you're talking about work-life balance, what does that mean? What is that definition? And really what it boils down to is what am I willing to tolerate at work to justify being at work, to justify not being at home. And that's that work-life balance, or how I see that work-life balance.
When I left the banking industry, I was working 25 hours a week, I was getting paid for holidays, had 12 Mondays off a year, had two weeks of vacation, on top of that had tons of time off. You talk about a work-life balance, it was great. And I left that to work 45 – 50 hours a week. Now tell me how that makes sense from a work-life balance situation. Well, what it ultimately amounted to is what I was doing at the bank didn't align with what I needed personally in my personal development. And so I went somewhere that did.
I love that. I love that way of putting out work-life balance. I don't like that term work-life balance, I think you perfectly illustrated why. To me it's really sort of work-life integration, right? I'm sure I'm not the only one. My life's kind of complicated and things come to work with me and things go home with me and I try to make sure I have time to rest. But the idea of, I need to work eight hours in a day, be with my family for four hours in a day, sleep eight hours a day, and that is perfect work-life balance. Well that doesn't tend to work out. I think my math is off, but you get the point. Four hours of personal time of me doing hobbies.
Anyway, that never works. It's always kind of a hodgepodge back and forth and so when you lay out this theoretically nice schedule that you had and say, well this isn't work-life balance that I'm okay with, and then you jump into another thing where you're working much more, I get that. That to me matches the reality that I see when we talk about the idea of work-life balance.
Talk to me a bit about managing sort of emotions inside the practice. So we're still talking about culture and we've talked about that sort of psychological safety and that makes a lot of sense, but I can only stay after this integration of me being a human being and not being able just to put the fact that my kids are sick but beside me or leave it out outside, I'm bringing that in. Talk to me a bit about how we integrate the emotional experience that people have into a positive culture, as opposing to try to get people to be non-emotional or leave their personal life outside.
And that's a very difficult thing to do. I think that there is certainly some voids there, and certainly in the emergency arena where you're dealing with a lot of trauma, you're dealing with a lot of clients that have emotional shock from what has just happened to their pet, to euthanasia. I think from the emotional standpoint, we have to be able to have a networked community within our hospital to provide that emotional support. We cannot be cold, callous or say you just need to suck it up and do your job. We need to allow for breaks, we need to allow for time for recovery after those events. Because our staff, our doctors, are very much connected to the cases, especially when they're trying to save them or something unexpected happens that they're trying to do CPR, they're trying to revive them, any number of different things, something goes wrong and then they have to go tell the family and the children that a member of their family is no longer with them.
That takes an emotional toll and over time that weighs down on a person. And so there needs to be an emotional release of that. There needs to be a way for them to talk about that, what they're feeling, how they're feeling. And as leaders, we need to be able to sense that. We need to be able to pick up on that. And it's not just, how you're doing, I'm doing fine, and move on about our day. We checked it off, they're okay, we're moving on. No, we need to have meetings, we need to have debriefs and talk about what just happened.
We have a client that comes in, it's a bloat, they don't have the financial means to take care of it, they end up euthanizing the dog. Emotional toll on the staff, well let's talk about it. Listen, that wasn't your decision. It was out of your control. This was a choice that they made. This wasn't a choice that you made. You did what you could do, you did your part. How does this make you feel? Probing questions, allowing them to vent, allowing them to cry if they need to. Just providing that safe space, again, just that emotional safety is key to providing safe environments in the culture. Because if we're telling them, listen, that's not okay here, you've got to pretend to be something else. Again, we go back to that, we're hiring you to do this, but we need you to fake and be somebody else.
I can feel a certain subset of listeners recoiling, and I feel it too. So in your mind, these type of probing questions, this is a leadership skill, is asking people to sort of unpack how they felt about this and to have these types of conversations. Where is the line in that where we say, I do want to be supportive and at the same time I'm not a therapist. And I worry about the slippery slope, obviously, of everyone coming to me every day to talk about how they're feeling about things and I go, I'm not really qualified to have this level of input into how you're coping with things. Help me understand that a little bit.
Well, and I think it's with anything, and especially with our industry and so many suicides within our profession, I think that as leaders we need to be aware of the emotional state of our staff and be able to help them find the resources that they need. We don't necessarily need to provide the answers, we need to provide them with ways to find the answers. So I'm not going to have the solution to provide them, but sometimes they just need somebody to sit there and listen.
And I've found a lot of the time it's just being able to listen. My wife has told me multiple times, I don't want you to fix the problem, I just want you to listen. And listening goes a long way to just helping people feel important, help them feel like they're being heard, to be able to vocalize the way that they feel can have a major impact on just how they're internalizing their emotions, to be able to just get it out there on the table.
So I definitely hear that. I think you're onto something as far as, again, I like the idea of psychological safety and people knowing that they're able to talk about how they're feeling, especially when things are coming up inside the practice. I think that that's really important. And also I also buy into the idea of being able to ask these types of questions as a modern leadership skill. I think maybe 40 years ago you said no, you leave personal life at home and we go… I don't think that resonates with the people that we're leading anymore, so I'm on board with where you're going. Convince me that this sort of approach on culture and an evolving culture, convince me that the pet owners see and feel this, that actually has a positive impact on the pet owner experience. Because you talk a lot about culture with financial conversations, like with pet owners who are having a negative experience. Talk me through how you make that leap.
So the best example that I could provide you is just, in our practice we have pet owners who interact with our staff and they just appreciate the communication. They can tell a difference in the way things are communicated. It's hard to put a pulse point or put it into words how that culture is communicated or translated to the clients, but there is a connection and a bond that's transferred so that they can feel the interconnectedness and the relationships and the bond that we have as a hospital, and they feel safe. I can't tell you how many times pets have come into our hospital and the client is saying they're going to freak out, they're not going to feel safe, and even the pets respond differently in our hospital. So I mean there is definitely something to that low tension interconnectedness that takes place, that does transform and create an environment that is welcoming and open to others who enter it.
Do you buy the idea that if you create a workspace where your employees feel sort of psychologically safe, where they feel like mistakes are not the end of the world and where they're not continuously being judged, or they're being judged fairly and they know what expectations are, those people are more likely to interact with pet owners in a more relaxed manner or more natural manner and sort of head off some of the more emotional confrontations that we see.
I think some of the real conflicts that I see are when I have a support staff member who feels like she's stuck and she needs to toe the line or her hands are very tied, and then I have a pet owner who feels very stuck and that their hands are very tied and I see an escalation that I don't tend to see in interactions where the staff members are maybe a little bit more laid back. They can still enforce policies and protocols, but they do it with a, I'll just say a certain confidence that they don't otherwise have. Does that make any sense to you? Does that resonate at all?
It does. It does, because when you empower your employees to be able to act on your behalf and they're not having to second guess everything that they do, they're able to act more freely, but they're also less prone to make mistakes because they know that if they do make a mistake, it's either, one, fixable or two, it's okay and I'm going to learn what the right way is.
Early on when I started, I was very rigid in the way that I approached those things and tried to have protocols for everything, but you can't predict every scenario and you can't predict every interaction that's going to take place. And so the theme started to become, listen, we need to do what's best for the client. We need to do what's best for the client. And then in the end it will ultimately be what's best for us. And so we've adapted and changed the way that we do those things and I think that individuals feel more empowered, individuals feel more free to make decisions on their own within the framework of what they already know is acceptable and okay.
And the best illustration that I can give you is a playground company did a study of kindergartners, they built a playground, it was an enormous playground, and they put all these nice playground structures up and they just let the kids lose. Well, what they found is the kids only played with the implements that were stationed next to where the teachers were standing. The really big stuff or the nice stuff that was in the back of the field, they didn't even go back there, until they put up a fence. Once they put up the fence, the kids explored every inch of the field, they engaged in more interactive play, they ventured further away from the teachers.
And I think that that's where we need to be as leaders, is we need to clearly define what the parameters are and say listen, within these parameters, go at it. And give them the freedom to innovate, to come up with ideas, collaborate with each other, have imaginative play, and find new ways to handle the problems that we're facing today. It's not just up to me, it's up to everyone, and let's collaborate and come up with a better solution.
I love it. Okay, so here as we're sort of coming to the end, what are the biggest steps that you see that people can take to start to build a culture like this? So first of all, I love that story. I've not heard the fence story before. It completely makes sense to me, I really like that analogy. How do you build that fence, I guess, what are the big things that you think are easy steps that practices can start to take. And again, this is going to be a work in progress, but what can we start to do to build out our culture that's going to make for better practices?
So I'm one of those people that I see articles that say 10 steps to success, or 10 steps to a better practice, and I just start laughing because not every practice is identical and not every practice is going to have the same people working for them or in there and they're not going to have the same experiences. So it's very comical to think that there's a do step one, two, three, four and ta-da, you're there.
For me, if it's about building a better culture, I think the biggest thing that has to happen is that it has to start with leadership in just establishing some transparency and saying, listen, we know, or just admitting and saying something's not right. Okay. What is it? Being transparent with yourself and saying, I don't have all the answers. They may. My staff may. Am I willing to listen to my staff, hear what they have to say and change because of it? And if you're not at that point, you're not ready for cultural change. Because if you're not ready to change based on what your staff are telling you, then you're not ready for it. You're not ready for it. Because ultimately culture involves everyone. And if you're going to be dogmatic in your thinking, then you basically have isolated yourself in a silo and everybody else is going to do the same thing and it's not a collaborative environment anymore.
Yeah, I like that a lot. I think a willingness to try things is a big one for me. I think a lot of people hear conversations like this and they go, I don't know if I'm ready to let go of control, and what if they want to do these things that are terrifying and I go, one of the big things for me has been, not saying we're going to radically change what we're doing, you just have to be willing to try some new things and see how they go. And that helped me early on to let go of the steering wheel so hard and just go, you know what, we're going to listen and we're going to try some things and then we're going to make some adjustments, but I found that to be really good.
Scott, what are your favorite resources in this arena? I know that's a huge topic. You've thrown on a number of different studies and books and things that you like, but if someone's like, man, I really like what Scott's talking about, this makes a lot of sense to me. What are some of your favorite resources to get people started on the topic?
Well, if you're looking for a complete overview of organizational culture, I would say Edgar Schein's Organizational Culture and Leadership is probably the best handbook regarding culture. I think that that is going to provide you with a overall framework of what culture is, how it works and things that you can do. But it's just an overall in-depth understanding of what culture is.
I'll put links to all these in the notes. I know people are probably frantically scrambling for a pen. No, go ahead and finish up, but I'll put links to these in the show notes.
And Everyone Culture by Kegan, it is another book. It gives some case studies of organizations. One organization specifically, they bring people in, send them through a bootcamp and then have the organization vote as to whether or not the individual is buying into the culture. If they're not, they give them $5,000 and tell them to go on their way. I mean, it's just amazing the different ideas that you can glean from that book. It's where I've got some of the resources and some of the quotes from, some of the things that I mentioned today.
Another one is, and it's not something that I really mentioned today, is Strategy as Practice, which is Paula Jarzabkowski, which is a very hard name to spell and pronounce, but she's a professor in Australia. But she looks at an organization and basically what we do is part of strategy culture in the organization. So she gives an example of a man who was a brake attendant on a train, and he was realizing that there was excessive wear on one of the wheels, so he was putting extra oil on it. When he retired, he left, new person came in and the wheels kept burning up, they couldn't figure out why. Ended up costing the rail company tremendous amount of money because that experience and knowledge was lost when that man left. And so Strategy as Practice is a great resource to help us realize the value of the individual and just how important that knowledge is and that experience is from each individual person. We may not know their value until they're gone, but we need to dig deep and understand their contributions.
Oh man. Scott, thanks so much for being here. I really appreciate your time, man. Guys, I'm going to put links to the show notes for the books that Scott laid out for us. Gang, take care of yourselves, be well and we'll talk to you soon.
And that is our episode, guys. I hope you enjoyed it, I hope you got something out of it. Big thanks to Scott for being here. Big thanks to Care Credit for making this episode happen without any advertisements. We can't do it without support of our partners. Gang, that's it, that's what I got. I hope to talk to you very soon. Take care, be well. See you soon.