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Chapter 12: Culture Trumps Strategy Every Time

Months ago, I embarked on a journey of introspection and reflection, pouring over the pages of my notes and musings from my time at OHA. Initially, my intention was to construct a simple evaluation report for the Behavioral Health Unit. But as I began excavating the layers of my observations, the report burgeoned into a robust and comprehensive 45-page evaluation report, replete with a strategic plan for revolutionizing the behavioral health unit.

The process was a rigorous one that required exhaustive research, numerous consultations, and countless revisions. But it was a labor of love, fueled by a desire to see a transformative shift in the culture of the organization, to push past the boundaries of the status quo and foster a new era of excellence. The report delves into the intricacies of culture development and outlines a comprehensive roadmap for realigning the values, beliefs, and behaviors of the behavioral health unit.

The title of this chapter, "Culture Trumps Strategy Every Time," suggests that an organization's culture holds greater significance than its strategy. The culture of an organization encompasses its shared values, beliefs, practices, and behaviors, while the strategy outlines the plan of action to achieve its goals. From my extensive experience in culture development, I firmly believe that an organization's success hinges upon the alignment of its culture with its strategy. No matter how sound the strategy may appear, it will be rendered ineffective if the organization's culture is not congruent with it. A culture that fosters collaboration, innovation, and adaptability will propel the strategy to success.

Conversely, a culture marked by resistance to change, bureaucracy, and compartmentalization is bound to impede the strategy's progress.

In my opinion, in order for the Oregon Health Authority to achieve success, it is essential for them to prioritize the development of a positive culture that aligns with their strategy. A positive work culture can greatly support and enhance the success of the strategy, while a negative work culture can undermine it. Therefore, my strategic plan aims to intersect culture development, inclusion, and trauma awareness with the overall strategy to create a cohesive and effective approach.

The plan that I have formulated is grounded on thorough observations, my personal experiences within the system, and the valuable feedback that I have gathered from various staff members within the organization. Prior to my tenure at OHA, I completed the Awareness-Based Systems Change cohort at MIT and obtained my certification.

As many gifted autists can attest, when I develop an interest in something, I tend to take my special interest to the extreme. This was certainly the case when I became fascinated with evolutionary systems change.

Prior to discovering information about giftedness and autism, I assumed that my behavior of delving into a topic with fervent curiosity was a common trait among most individuals. It wasn't until later that I realized my approach of immersing myself in every aspect of a topic, including reading all available literature, joining social media groups, and following influencers related to the subject matter, was not considered typical. I used to think that my way of thinking was the norm, where I could visualize systems in my minds eye, perceive fractals and patterns in everyday life, and apply biomimicry as a common-sense approach.

One area where I tend to struggle in social settings is using language that is too complex for my audience, which can leave them feeling alienated and make it hard for me to understand their perspective. I realize now that I have a tendency to assume that everyone shares the same knowledge as I do, and I don't recognize hierarchies based on factors such as profession, credentials, cognitive abilities, race, age, or gender. Learning that this is not the norm has been disheartening and frustrating for me, as I believe that flattening organizational structures could create a more inclusive and caring society. I see this as one of the biggest blind spots we have as a society.

I have come to recognize that much of my emotional distress has resulted from this misconception of mine. I have experienced ridicule, isolation, criticism, and rejection from various groups so frequently that it has become the expected outcome. Despite this, I have found myself repeatedly returning, hoping that I will be accepted at last. Unfortunately, I am often perceived as too intelligent, too sensitive, too naïve, too conceited, or too intense, which leads to yet another rejection. Repeated rejection has been the root cause of my CPTSD. It's an ah-ha moment for me to finally realize this.

Unlike some people who can easily let things roll off their backs, I tend to absorb everything, letting it sit within me and change me. Despite trying for 43 years to grow a thicker skin, I have yet to achieve this.
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