Saturday, April 5, 2014

Do you Have the RIGHT Culture within an Organization

There are many cultural metaphors, culture is like soil, the glue, the fabric or the mixing colors of paint...

What is "culture"? It is the environment created in an organization (the CULTURE) which affects the growth and quality of business. Every organization has a culture of its own, it might be invisible, but you can sense it, and each one is unique in its own way. It is the collective thinking and habit to do things there. Therefore setting the right CULTURE is very crucial.

Culture is like soil, the organization is like land. The more fertile the soil, the better nourishment the crop and plant product will be. The quality of soil has to be maintained, taken care of with fertilizers, manure, etc. That, in turn, translates into good quality products. Therefore, the fertility of the soil is linked with the quality and quantity of products. The same is true with culture in an organization. Most plans, goals fail perhaps because the organization fails to set the right culture and in providing the right environment for growth.

Navigate through cultureHow and why does culture exist? What are its forms? And how can any social organization "set" a unique culture? A culture results from a lot of factors: The endeavors, goals of the leaders, their personal philosophies, philosophy to reach the goal, their emotions in various scenarios and so on. It can be linked to things that they value. Some value innovations, some believe in driving profits, some reward employees, some are customer friendly and so on. Many want a mix of all these in different ratios. Hence, the cultures are as diverse as people or diversity in any other species. So many thoughts, ideas, visions, their mix in different proportions result in all these diversities.

Corporate culture and societal culture mutually influence with each otherHow can any social organization "set" a unique culture? Every organization must and should remember that they are a part of society; society is not a part of them. That is not good for society will never be good for them. When an organization’s culture is more innovative and open than its community or region in which it locates, it will make a positive influence on its ecosystem and the surrounding environment. On the other side, the out of dated societal culture will also make negative culture impact on the businesses living in it. Culture is a collective mindset, habit, and behavior, only the positive and innovative culture can push the human world forward!

More culture analogsMetaphorically, besides culture as soil analog, compare the culture to the "glue" that holds and binds an organization together. It could also be analogized to the "spirit" of the organization - much as the "soul/spirit" of a human being. Culture masters also speak of the culture as being the "fabric" of an organization and habits/behaviors/practices being woven into that fabric. There are other analogies as well, every organization (just like every individual) is on a "journey" to some destination - hopefully, one that is planned. Culture-the collective values/beliefs/ habits/mindset of the organization has to act as enablers to make the journey easier, faster and more successful. So the "RIGHT" culture would be the one which is an "enabler" rather than an "inhibitor" to achievement of an organization’s vision, it's the ability to maintain its core purpose, align the organization around its vision and establish strategies which support attainment of the vision and are executed by "switched on" people - those having passion and exhibiting the behaviors and practices consistent with that culture's core values/beliefs.

Forms and practices are built around cultureCulture is not built around forms and practices. There is a culture of handling things and nothing disturbs the culture under all circumstances. So best practices, the various endeavors they pursue or choose not to pursue are probably based on the culture of an organization. Many things are sacrificed just for the sake of culture, at the same time, there are examples where a huge goal is pursued simply because that is the culture of that particular organization. 

Culture is the "soil", to have a great harvest, grow the best crop (execute the right strategies flawlessly), you must prepare the soil - ensure it is enriched. Setting up the "right" culture is also like a painter mixing the "right" color. How much competition should be mixed with collaboration, creativity with structure? The "right" culture is the one that achieves the objectives of the shareholders with a risk level appropriate for the shareholders, but at the same time compliments the culture of the community in which it operates and makes a positive impact for the whole society.



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