Establishing Rituals to Help the City and County of San Francisco Create a High-Performing Culture

The City and County of San Francisco’s Digital Services Team is an eclectic group of about 45 staff who live and work in the dynamic, fast paced environment that is San Francisco. They provide online services to citizens with regard to housing, forms, and county communications.

While the team of engineers, planners, writers, coders, and artists await the completion of their new contemporary workspaces, the group has been faced with the unique challenge of working remotely or working within their current dated County office. To capitalize on the unique nature of their team and present circumstance, OnStrategy was invited onto their team to facilitate the development of values and rituals to establish expectations within the team to drive a culture of high performance.

We first met with SFDT in June to define the key values within their team culture. Seemingly simple ideas like work hard and laugh often and the golden rule, treat teammates as you would like to be treated surfaced as significant values. The team identified practices in place already reinforcing the value and crafted new rituals to further embed the values into the team and work. They landed on rituals like hosting low stress team events, intentionally highlighting the work of a team member weekly, and noting when team members embodied their values. SFDT also created space for the team to articulate beliefs holding them back – like the concern about making mistakes.

In December, we met to check in on Digital Services’ progress. Together, we built human “consensograms.” We posed questions like “How do you feel SFDT is living their values?” and “How well are you living the values?” and asked the staff to physically line up and reflect on their different positions in the lineup based on the question.

This illuminated different perceptions and gave the group and practical and constructive way to talk through concerns and problem solve. It showed the team what’s working and what needs to be worked on to further strengthen the high performing team they are becoming.

Though these exercises may sound simple, navigating the human relationships and interactions within a team is vital for the functional communication and quality collaboration it takes to realize a strategic vision and drive strategic direction forward. OnStrategy is proud to be teaming with San Francisco Digital Services and supporting the good work they do for the citizens of this iconic American city.

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