Culture. You can’t go anywhere or read anything without someone telling you about the importance of culture. But when you ask those dozen people what they think culture is, you’ll get a couple dozen answers that may or may not sound anything alike.
It may be easier to start with what culture is not. It’s not ping pong tables, open bars, or an open floor plan. It’s not the vacation policy, management structure, or dog policy either. Although those are perks, benefits, and tools that can be used to reinforce specific types of cultures.
So, what is culture? The best answer I’ve heard is that culture is the normal way things are done, especially when nobody’s looking.
Although that is the best overall description I’ve heard, in true form to my go!-Statement “To learn, simplify, and connect to create 2x in 1/2x” for me to fully grasp an abstract concept, I find it very helpful to connect something else with it through an analogy.
If we look at an organization as a metaphorical macrocosm of an individual, there are some insightful correlations:
|Morals (what you believe)||Values|
|Identity (who you see yourself as)||Culture|
|Personality (how you’re perceived)||Positioning|
|Reputation (how you’re remembered)||Brand|
When I look at culture through that filter, one thing that strikes me is that all of these exist whether or not they are intentionally curated…which is totally the case when it comes to culture. When culture is intentionally designed it is an amazingly powerful alignment tool.
Every action and every decision either reinforces or remolds the culture, so my leadership team is very, very mindful about the consistency of our decisions, interactions, and messaging with our team, ensuring we are always adding to the alignment much like an old school dot matrix printer or mosaic art piece.
Have you designed your culture with intention or has it shaped itself from your indifference?