The Elusive Enigma

On a cold January morning, a group of IT leaders gathered at Messer’s Headquarters for the first meeting of 2024 for The Circuit’s CIO Circle group.   The CIO Circle is an industry group made up of Senior IT leaders from the Greater Cincinnati community.  The meeting was hosted by Jim Black, CIO of Messer and Mark Heidrich, Vice President of Strategic Accounts at Prosource.


The topic for January was company culture, an elusive enigma and a critical part of employee engagement, retention, performance, adaptability and image for a company.


Darrin Murriner of Cloverleaf ( was in the house to tee up the culture conversation. He began with statistics like the following from Gallup, “as of mid-2023, the percentage of engaged U.S. employees is 34% and the actively disengaged is 16%”. [1]  Which may lead to a conclusion that 50% of employees are just doing the minimum required?  Darrin then took the group to the topic of the dimensions of culture (autonomy, competitiveness, and relatedness) and a short discussion on control, empowerment, goals, risk tolerance, supportiveness, inclusivity, etc.   He followed up with a few questions proposed to the group to quickly turn the meeting to a group collaboration.


The group dived into the topic and what followed was a chorus of voices, each seasoned with experience, and open to exploring and sharing their thoughts while dissecting culture and examining its impact on everything from employee engagement to innovation.


One quote that sticks with me after the meeting was, “Culture should allow us to express our humanity”.  That quote triggered a subtle change in my own thoughts from defining cultural dimensions to defining the cultural outcomes that a company would hope to see.  What activities can be witnessed to measure culture?  After all, how do you know if your culture is good, bad, or moving in any direction if you cannot measure it.


The CIO Circle is a long-standing Senior IT level group in Cincinnati that has been showing up, opening up, and raising up together.  Their collaboration appears to be marked by a trust and a shared commitment to continuous learning. A sign of a great community. A great example for the rest of the community and for aspiring IT professionals.


Looking forward to February!


About the Author:

Dan Whitacre recently retired from his role as Senior Director of R&D and Technology Transformation where he led the internal lab ecosystem as well as University Labs at the University of Cincinnati 1819 Innovation Hub and the Northern Kentucky University’s Innovation Gallery. Dan focused on innovation and transforming Kroger’s enterprise approaches to data and analytics architecture, technology strategies and practices as well as its disruption roadmap. He served as the CTO and Vice President of Business Development for a technology services organization and spent six years consulting at IBM on Information and analytics strategy and architecture.