Thousands if not millions of people talk about crime in Chicago. The overall crime rate in Chicago is 35%, higher than the national average. While down in 2017, Chicago’s murder rate soared 72% in 2016; shootings were up more than 88% (Source: Chicago Police Department). The gang violence and murder problem are regularly featured on the national and international news.

One organization that is doing something about this problem is BUILD Chicago. They have one mission; to transform the lives of at-risk youth. This past weekend I had the opportunity to lead a retreat for BUILD Chicago. One of our activities was to identify their organization’s values. In a brief two- hour working session, I guided the leadership team through a process to identify their four values: Empathy, Passion, Persistence and Innovation. The next day, we worked with the rest of their organization to further define these values and begin the process of adoption and integration.

Since I started working with BUILD Chicago a year ago, they have nearly doubled their staff, and have taken significant action to improve and grow their culture. Both of these are large undertakings on their own. Together, if not led properly, are quite risky.

By grounding his entire organization in these values, CEO Adam Alonzo is ensuring that as they go through this high growth phase, they also develop their culture. In the process, they are implementing accountability measures to keep the team on track and moving quickly in the right direction.

By the end of the retreat it was clear to me that beyond the massive transformation, this organization is going through, seeds of an even larger transformation are being planted. While relatively unknown today, BUILD Chicago is on the cusp of explosive growth focused on making exponential improvements in the city of Chicago. Why?

  1. Strong leadership and sponsorship. The CEO is hungry for growth and is willing and able to work with his entire organization to make this happen.
  2. The leadership is aligned. The entire leadership team is aligned to both the outcome of the cultural transformation and the organizational objectives associated with growth. This includes the values we discovered during the retreat.
  3. The entire organization is enrolled in both changes. Believe me, if you experienced the energy I have during this retreat, you’d know this to be a fact.

In my years of working with all kinds of organizations through all kinds of change, I have found these to be the three most important ingredients to successful transformative change.

How are you doing with your transformation?

Dedicated to your profitable transformation,


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