Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Culture is not a Compilation of Individual People's Values

Equating the culture of an enterprise with a compilation of individual people’s values may have some limited application to a sorority or a fraternity, but that’s it.  Anyone who tries to sell you on such an idea is selling you snake oil.

Culture has to do with creating conditions for your people to fully deliver on your enterprise’s customer promise.  It is driven by the nature of your business and what it takes for you to succeed in your marketplace.  It is all about implementation and identity.

A rowing team’s culture is formed by what this collection of people must actually do in order to succeed.  This is true for every non-profit and for-profit enterprise.  A compilation of each of the rower’s personal values is not what leads to success.  

Our research over the past 35 years tells us that there are sixteen major drivers of culture and that each set of these drivers is practiced differently in each of four fundamental kinds of enterprises. 

Additionally, the kind of culture (and leadership) that is best for you is determined by your customer promise. Singling out culture and focusing just on it is informative, but of next-to-no value.  Culture has to be addressed only in the context of your customer promise and your approach to leadership.  All three need to be worked with simultaneously.

Equating culture with complied individual values is simplistic and has considerable potential to do more harm than good. 

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