Minding the Invisible
people at work // culture at scale
For the leader, working with culture is like understanding the role of dark matter in the universe—it’s everywhere, it’s influential, yet impossible to detect with the naked eye. If you want to understand the universe or want to deliver on a mission, you must mind this invisible force. As the former Chief Cultural and Talent of Officer of the Wikimedia Foundation, a foundation that works with hundreds of thousands of volunteers around the world to create content and give it away, culture was how we scaled. To mature it, it took more than clarity about the mission, the values, the norms, the mindsets. I had to work with the mythic and the mundane in every moment. I had to uncover the invisible stories and unconscious narratives that we told about ourselves to know how and when and why to intervene.
Who I Am
I have focused throughout my career on being a catalyst for human and organizational development. I have a rich organizational consulting background with both corporate and nonprofit clients, and was in the process of becoming a monk when I became an executive instead. I joyously took on the role of Chief Culture and Talent Officer at the Wikimedia Foundation (Wikipedia and its sister free-knowledge projects) until early 2015, when I decided to return to private practice. Born in the Philippines to Chinese parents and raised in the United States, I carry a multicultural perspective, an adventurous spirit, and a deep commitment to expanding human freedom.
I work to create dynamic organizational cultures in which people can thrive and thus make greater contributions. I often act as the interface between individuals and the systems within which they work, fostering the development of both. From high-level strategic thinking to practical implementation, my bailiwick includes leadership and executive development, change management, instructional design, training, strategic communications, team building, and personal and organizational transformation. My clients have ranged from McDonald’s Corporation to Kaiser Permanente to Yale University to Ernst & Young.
In my practice, I have often followed a particular interested in global women’s issues and supporting women in leadership. I've worked as a facilitator for the Stanford Graduate School of Business Interpersonal Dynamics course and their Women in Management program, and I continue to mentor for programs such as the Unreasonable Institute and Singularity University. I am keenly interested in the intersection of technology and human rights and support futurist humanitarian causes.
What I Do
I engage leaders in exploring how they run their companies, their intended and unintended consequences on people at work, and their next steps.
Who I Work With
I work with leaders who are willing to learn, who want to develop themselves because they understand their growing wisdom impacts their culture. I have a special expertise in organizations that are beginning to scale, who are facing budding complexity, and understand that systems and structures are important but too much of them will create drag (I believe in minimal viable bureaucracy!). Instead, they are looking to scale through culture.
The best way to reach me is to e-mail me at: GayleKarenYoung@gmail.com
I reside between the great city of San Francisco, California, and the picturesque village of Langley, Washington on beautiful Whidbey Island.