Cultures are often over generalised. We hear people make statements such as. German culture is efficient. Fijian culture is friendly. Japanese culture is symbolic and ritualised.
The same generalisations apply when people talk about their company culture in terms like; “Our culture is great”. “We have a positive culture”. “We have a collaborative culture”. “We have an award winning culture”.
I understand the attraction of using generalisations. It makes it easy to avoid the need or temptation to explain the complexities of your culture and bore the people you are talking to. However there is a trap in generalising about your culture.
By thinking about and discussing culture as a generalisation we inadvertently overlook or downplay many of the important facets of culture. When we do this we put our culture at risk.
The following are seven key questions I believe every organisation should always consider in order to avoid generalising and over simplifying the state or condition of their culture.
When you explore these seven questions you get a clearer understanding of the condition of your culture.
- How well is your culture aligned with and contributing to, the delivery of your business strategy?
- To what extent is your company culture inspiring the performance that will enable you to achieve your company purpose or mission?
- Does your company culture embody the values of your organisation, or has it developed its own unwritten ground rules?
- Does your culture elevate peoples energy and enthusiasm levels in your business or drain them?
- Does your culture act as a rudder and stabiliser to all the uncertain competitive and chaotic forces swirling around your business and market?
- To what extent does your culture foster knowledge sharing and collaboration across your business?
- How well can you define and codify and celebrate your company culture? (Do you truly understand what forms it, who leads it, why it changes or refuses to, and how you celebrate its contribution to your organisation’s performance?)
Finding answers to these seven questions about your culture will enable you to articulate your culture far more effectively and usefully than simply saying “ We have a great culture”.
Cultural Observation For Consideration.
Start exploring these questions today throughout your organisation and see how consistent views are across departments.