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Culture, culture, culture: tales from BBC UX&D

Julia Whitney spoke about culture and what she’d learned from trying to understand the work at the BBC

  • Culture is – unconscious beliefs based on shared learning that impact success (Gregory Shine)
  • Unconscious assumptions are the underlying part of the iceberg
  • Observe unconscious values in conflict with what’s written on the wall (official values) and ask why
  • Find out what counts as heroism – at the BBC this meant managing the chaos of a live show without viewers noticing!
  • Look for structural and embedded mechanisms
  • Encourage productive ideological conflict (that ends in a decision) – without conflict there is no commitment and wishy-washy decisions. Use conflict mining workshops – and use conflict contracts that the team will not prioritise relief over resolution
  • How will you counter someone’s learning anxiety over survival anxiety? What changes in your behaviour does the culture you work in require from you?

Her plan for the 90s days was:

  • In the first 90 days find people with influence and alliances
  • Make yourself redundant
  • Managers manage, leaders make decisions – for the latter having knowledge of the craft can help gain respect at key points