Culture Defined

This is one of the best articles I’ve ever read about organizational culture!  Shawn Parr, Guvner and CEO of Bulldog Drummond, provides this great definition –

“Culture is a balanced blend of human psychology, attitudes, actions, and beliefs that combined create either pleasure or pain, serious momentum or miserable stagnation. A strong culture flourishes with a clear set of values and norms that actively guide the way a company operates. Employees are actively and passionately engaged in the business, operating from a sense of confidence and empowerment rather than navigating their days through miserably extensive procedures and mind-numbing bureaucracy.”

“Culture, like brand, is misunderstood and often discounted as a touchy-feely component of business that belongs to HR. It’s not intangible or fluffy, it’s not a vibe or the office décor. It’s one of the most important drivers that has to be set or adjusted to push long-term, sustainable success.”

If you ignore your organization’s culture, or don’t actively nurture it, a negative culture could develop, causing failure.  Shawn Parr continues on to talk about some of the basics that you need to pay attention to.

“Building a strong culture takes hard work and true commitment and, while not something you can tick off in boxes, here are some very basic building blocks to consider:

  1. Dynamic and engaged leadership A vibrant culture is organic and evolving. It is fueled and inspired by leadership that is actively involved and informed about the realities of the business. They genuinely care about the company’s role in the world and are passionately engaged. They are great communicators and motivators who set out a clearly communicated vision, mission, values, and goals and create an environment for them to come alive.
  2. Living values It’s one thing to have beliefs and values spelled out in a frame in the conference room. It’s another thing to have genuine and memorable beliefs that are directional, alive and modeled throughout the organization daily. It’s important that departments and individuals are motivated and measured against the way they model the values. And, if you want a values-driven culture, hire people using the values as a filter. If you want your company to embody the culture, empower people and ensure every department understands what’s expected. Don’t just list your company’s values in PowerPoints; bring them to life in people, products, spaces, at events, and in communication.
  3. Responsibility and accountability Strong cultures empower their people, they recognize their talents, and give them a very clear role with responsibilities they’re accountable for. It’s amazing how basic this is, but how absent the principle is in many businesses.
  4. Celebrate success and failure Most companies that run at speed often forget to celebrate their victories both big and small, and they rarely have time or the humility to acknowledge and learn from their failures. Celebrate both your victories and failures in your own unique way, but share them and share them often.”

This article really resonated with me because the author’s views on the four points above fit so well with how Michelle and I think about implementing organizational change and what the culture needs to look like for it to have a chance of being successful.  In a lot of our prior blogs, you’ll see similar points being made — but maybe not stated so succinctly or eloquently as Shawn Parr has!

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One Response to Culture Defined

  1. Pingback: Point – Counterpoint: Culture and Strategy | wHolistic Change™

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