You simply cannot afford to ignore culture.
A Great Culture isn’t a nice to have. It’s a must. Not just because there are moral and ethical considerations, but also because it makes good business sense. Get it wrong and the disease spreads. Get it right and you release positive spores throughout the organisation.
The thing about culture is that it will grow whether you intervene or not. In fact, not intervening is in itself a mark of the culture that predominates. And what we know about cultures is that bad culture kills and good culture cures.
The bacteria or your organisation.
Each individual is a piece of that organisational bacteria. Each person represents a different element that can affect the way the culture develops. Each person can therefore influence the culture.
When companies ignore culture and pour their energies into systems, processes, and structures without recognising the impact of culture, they inevitably hit obstacles. If the culture that has been allowed to develop is one of expediency, no amount of new systems will actually change the way people react when ‘push comes to shove’. If a blame culture has evolved unchecked, then introducing a Continuous Improvement Suggestion Scheme is less likely to be successful.
Without ‘Culture’ being put on the agenda and seen as a core business criteria, the bad culture is given free reign to run rampant. That’s why senior leadership is needed. Strong and committed advocates who see it as one of their prime responsibilities to model the way, define the culture they need, and enable that culture to evolve positively.
But leadership is only part of the solution. Every person has a critical role to play.
Consider for a moment how many interactions you have with people every day through
Now consider that every person you interact with also has a similar number of interactions with people throughout their working week. Your sphere of influence directly and indirectly is enormous. Even if only a small proportion of your behaviour rubs off on each person who then passes it on through their own network, you have made a powerful contribution to how the culture develops.
We can’t go on talking about culture as something we don’t control or create. We can’t blame our culture on someone else. We must all take full responsibility for the culture we feed, and seize every opportunity to grow the culture that will feed us.
Tim Lambert July 2012