3 tools to design your culture

I want to introduce you to three tools that can be used to assess your team's health. 

On several projects I’ve worked on, the team has set off with the best intentions, smashing through goals and delivering awesome work. 

But at some point, things start to wander off track and go a bit dysfunctional. Everything starts to slow down and work becomes more and more difficult. It sucks and no one enjoys it! 

Now and then it pays for everyone in the team to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. Refocusing on the core mission and coming out with a more positive view on things. 

Below are some great tools available to help identify where things are going right and where they could do with some TLC.

Atlassian Team Health Monitors

One well known Australian startup has experienced some of this pain. After launching their product - one of the most used tools world wide, the Atlassian team grew to over 2000 employees. It was during this massive growth that cracks started to appear. Their solution? Health Monitors.

Atlassian performed a massive amount of research and found that team success boiled down to 8 key attributes.

Members of the team get together (about once a month) and run a quick voting session to give the thumbs up or thumbs down on how things are going for each of the 8 attributes.

Once key issues are identified, Atlassian has also provided several “plays” to identify root causes, to help you put action plans into place. 

Spotify Squad Health Check

Without Spotify, I would go crazy at work… Deadline approaching, or a hard problem to solve, music is generally my go-to for getting shit done. Our work environments aren’t built for clear uninterrupted thinking… that’s a topic for another day! 

Spotify is also awesome when it comes to engineering culture and organisation structure

One tool they use is the health check model. Like the Atlassian health monitor, it aims to visualise team health and give leadership a view on how things are going culture wise across all your teams. 

Using a traffic light system, each team look at 11 attributes and vote on whether things are trending up, or trending down. It’s a great way to visualise the team happiness, and also identifying individuals who might be in a bad place. 

Check out their blog post explaining the health check model, and make sure you download the assisting PDF’s.

The Culture Map

Which brings me to my favourite & final tool ‘The Culture Map’.


Dave Gray, author of the awesome book ‘GameStorming - a playbook for innovators, rule-breakers, and change makers’, and the team at Strategyzer teamed up to create a tool for organisations to assess, map and transform their cultures.

After researching for 2 years and producing several iterations of the canvas, the Culture map tool is brilliant for identifying the key behaviours of your team, the outcomes of these behaviours, and the things you do as an organisation to enable/block them.

The Canvas is a great tool to engage your team and creates a living evaluation of how the team sees its culture.

Want to run a culture mapping session? I’ve run several sessions for organisations, and the best results have always come from following the best practices described by Dave & Alex. It’s always a fun session and starts with the team imagining the culture as a garden. 

Culture, like a garden, is something that is always evolving. It’s tough work, but get it right and it will flourish. It’s a fine balance of cultivating the right behaviours and protecting the team from pests. 

If you want to run a team session on your culture, I’d love to help. Send an email to hello@steveforbes.com.au to get started - the next step generally involves coffee!

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