- Duncan Wallis
On Leadership: Building a Healthy Organizational Culture
Building a great organizational culture is such a broad topic that it truly cannot be explained in a blog post—but I’m going to do my best to highlight some of the things that have worked for me in MSCG. Because of my position within the organization’s succession being the first President that wasn’t a founder of the group, I was able to focus a lot of my efforts on building a culture that I hope will live long past my tenure in MSCG. The pandemic created a lot of challenges in that task and I will address some of those as well.
The first, and maybe largest, component to strong organizational culture is communication. One thing that MSCG has consistently implemented are several avenues of communication: the Executive Board communicates among each other daily, Project Managers and their teams communicate multiple times a week, and the full club gets together roughly every three weeks to talk about updates, do a fun social activity, or work on some professional development. MSCG utilizes Slack, email, text, and obviously now Zoom to communicate and meet with each other. Efficient and effective communication has been the key to transparency within the group—and when there is transparency, people know what is happening at all levels of the organization and feel more engaged as a whole.
Before the pandemic, MSCG had roughly two social events each semester to create a sense of community and bonding that other organizations lack beyond their Executive Board. Plus, beyond social events, MSCG provides a project team meal or activity each semester. All of this is intended for people to meet each other outside of project teams. The most unique aspect of MSCG is that although we operate and function like a real boutique consulting firm, we are still a student organization. We want to create opportunities for peers to meet each other and make friends while still delivering on the mission of this organization: to personally and professionally develop students through consulting engagements with real-world sport businesses. With the pandemic, it has been harder than ever to create a social experience—we have done trivia nights, alumni meet and greets, MSCG member-centric Kahoot quizzes, and more. It’s impossible to replicate the experience of getting together with people and going bowling or playing laser tag (activities we’ve done in the past), for example, but we’re successfully keeping the social aspect of the group through the little things.
The final thing that we preach in MSCG is self-reflection and self-improvement. This philosophy is at the heart of our mission: “To personally and professionally develop...” We have created a culture of constant improvement—resetting the bar higher and higher for ourselves and our project work. We don’t tolerate laziness, or people that just want MSCG as a resume bullet (though it makes a great one)—we want people who are genuinely dedicated to improving themselves through their experiences in MSCG. One major thing we have implemented that I will talk more about in a later blog post is the Gallup StrengthsFinder test—a personality test based on 34 strengths that are present in each person—your results show the 5 that are most applicable to you. We have implemented this not just as a way to form cohesive project teams but also as a social language in the club to help better understand each other. Knowing how best to collaborate with others is one of the key values to MSCG.
This is just a little bit of MSCG’s culture—I could write about it for far longer than this but I know the longer it is, the harder it is to read it. I hope for members of MSCG this helps shine a light on some of the things we do. And for people that aren’t in MSCG, I hope this gives you ideas for your own organization or gets you interested in joining ours!