What you can learn from Chipotle and fantasy football

We live in a participatory world.

If you haven’t realized this yet, consider some of what’s popular in the world today.

The “fast casual” restaurant market is a $21 billion industry.

Chipotle (and many others) created a whole new restaurant category due to their freshness, price point and participatory style. You don’t just walk into a Chipotle and order a burrito.

You get to participate in the creation of your own burrito. So, you go down the line and pick out the type of rice, beans, meat, veggies and condiments you would like. It isn’t just a burrito; it is your burrito. You participate in the creation of it.

And fantasy football is a $70 billion industry. Why is it so popular? We don’t just want to watch football; we want to compete with our friends to create a team with the best players that we pick. We want to participate in the experience.

So, what does any of this have to do with culture?

Every day the culture of your team, your company, your family, your community is being shaped by the way the people in your group think, act and interact. The leaders of your group must be involved and passionately engaged in leading the culture, but no longer can it only be dictated from above. People want to participate in the creation of the culture they want.

So what are the best leaders, teams and organizations doing to proactively grow the culture they desire? Well, here are a few elements of what the best are doing:

  • Where’s point A? The best leaders know that before they launch into a grand vision for where they hope to go they must truly understand where they stand currently. Where is their starting point? Where are we at point A? What are we doing well and want to continue? Where are we missing the mark and want to improve?
  • Conversations are the currency for change. The most compelling groups make time and space to have conversations that plant the seeds of change. They involve the voices throughout their team to participate. What is the culture we desire? What do we want to be different? What are the values that we want to lead how we do the work that we do?
  • Anchor it! Culture shaping is not an overnight experience. Proactively growing the culture you desire takes the participation of everyone and can’t be just the flavor of the month. The most successful entities that grow compelling cultures are ones that identify and practice specific behaviors, experiences and messages that anchor their values in the culture. They strategically anchor thoughts, actions and interactions over the long haul that supports the culture they want to create.

No matter what role you play in your organization, you influence the culture by the ways you participate each day. You have the ability to drive conversations that are the currency for change and initiate actions that impact those around you.

How will you participate in the creation of your culture today?


Jason V. Barger is a globally celebrated keynote speaker, leadership coach and author of “Thermostat Cultures,” “Step Back from the Baggage Claim” and “ReMember.” He is founder of Step Back Leadership Consulting, a Columbus-based company that works with businesses and organizations worldwide.