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Benjamin Drury - July 13, 2018

Culture Truth #1 – Every organisation has a culture!

Simply put, wherever two or more people come together for a common purpose a shared culture will arise.

Whether it’s two people in a marriage, a few children in a group of friends at school or swathes of employees in a multinational corporation, when groups join up to achieve something they will generate and rally round a shared collection of behaviours, beliefs, values and expectations.

When people come together for a purpose
a shared culture will form.

Let me give you an example.  When people come round to your house, can they do anything they like?  Do you have any expectations at all about how they should behave?  Can they put their feet on the furniture with shoes on?  Can they come in and watch your TV and hog the remote?  Can they help themselves to the fridge and drink all your wine, beer, <insert favourite beverage here> without buying more?  Are they allowed to ‘borrow’ your car?  Can they swear?

You probably have some idea of answers to most of those questions, but when did you sit down and write out those expectations? At what point in your personal life did you discuss and articulate how you expected people to behave when they came into your house? When did you compile your “Visitors Rules & Expectations” orientation pack?

My guess is you didn’t. You may have discussed certain topics or expressed a few values in passing conversation, but I’m pretty sure you didn’t specifically commit to paper the values and culture you wanted to build in your family.

The thing is, it doesn’t matter whether you spend time explicitly defining what you believe your culture should be or whether you allow it to develop organically unspoken over time, every single organisation, community or group of individuals, no matter how small or large, will develop a culture – a common set of social rules and values that influence and define everything within the organisation.

And if culture influences and affects every aspect of your organisation, then why would you leave it to chance? Why wouldn’t you spend time crafting and implementing the exact culture you want to grow in your organisation? Why wouldn’t you be clear and explicit about exactly how you wanted people to behave?

You wouldn’t just go out and hire a random group of people to be your board of directors, would you? You’d be very careful with your selection process. You’d put candidates through a very stringent vetting process and a sequence of thorough interviews. You’d review past performance and gather recommendations from trusted advisors. You’d more than likely give them a lengthy probationary period with very clear expectations and desired outcomes before you hired them permanently. You’d put time, effort and money into making sure you didn’t get it wrong. You can’t afford to get it wrong. The future of your organisation depends on not getting it wrong.

Yet few organisations give the same level of attention to defining and developing their culture, even though the culture within your organisation will have a much more profound impact than the board of directors.

How much time do you spend talking about, defining, and actively implementing the culture you want?

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