Exploring a Culture of Helping

ACPAACPA News, Water Cooler Chat

Wendy-Jo Toyama, MBA, CAE headshot

Wendy-Jo Toyama, MBA, CAE

I am writing from ACPA’s 75th Anniversary Meeting at the Westin Convention Center. Twenty-five years ago, we hosted the meeting here. Linda and Ricky are two of the Westin staff who I met. They have worked here 26 years and so joined us for our 50th. As I describe our group to the on-site team, I share information about cleft lip and palate as well as the people who treat those affected. I describe our members as kind, collaborative and highly communicative.

At my first Annual Meeting, I was struck by the number of people who offered to help. It was unique. I share this information about our culture with my colleagues in the association space, who are envious. Through my recent exploration of organizational culture, I encountered a powerful article about this quality, “IDEO’s Culture of Helping.” It outlines that collaborative help builds perspective, experience and expertise. This requires leadership commitment and is not forced. The authors, Teresa Amabile, Colin M. Fisher and Julianna Pillemer, spent two years conducting formal and informal research to learn how this culture was formed at IDEO, a Palo Alto design and consulting firm. The article maps the culture at IDEO, which is fascinating. They share that trust and accessibility matter much more than competence and go on to describe processes and roles that support this culture. The article cites other resources, including, “In the Company of Givers and Takers,” by Adam Grant, an article based on Grant’s book, “Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success,” which Past-President Bob Havlik cited in his presidential remarks at ACPA’s 74th Annual Meeting.

As I considered this article, I thought about ACPA. Much of what is covered in the article may be approaches that you use with your own teams. It struck me that this helping culture transcends our teams and is part of what makes the organization unique and special. Here’s to a great meeting as we celebrate 75 years of team care.