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What’s Culture Got To Do With It?

In thinking about culture, I’m reminded of the song made famous by Tina Turner in the 1980’s where love is described as a “second-hand emotion” and a “sweet old fashioned notion”. Both phrases suggest that the concept of love is somehow less than what we imagine it to be.

And so it is with culture. Everyone talks about it and assumes it’s important, yet it seems to be something that is difficult to define and describe, especially as it relates to organizations. People say you can “feel” the culture of an organization when you walk through the offices or place of business. Some say the culture defines the organization while others suggest that the organization defines the culture.

So what is it and is it important? We believe that culture is the beliefs, values, customs, and behaviors that people subscribe to as they relate to the world and each other. Most simply, it’s the way things get done. In an organization, it includes both written and unwritten “rules” of conduct or behavior.

Regardless of how it is defined, we believe it is VERY important! We have discovered that it can have a positive or negative influence on those who spend time in it. This impacts individual contributors, and all of the internal and external stakeholders who have contact with the organization.

We believe that workplaces need to be positive and inspired. Where do you begin to assess your current state and decide if your organization is what you want it to be?

Begin by asking a few questions:

  • How much do I look forward to going to work each day?

  • What words come to mind when asked to describe the organization I represent?

  • How often do I and others demonstrate negativity at work?

If you find that there is a pervasive theme of uninspired and uninspiring elements in your organization, consider ways to be different. Begin today by identifying at least two things that you really love about your organization. Post them in a visible place; share them with some colleagues; seek opportunities to demonstrate them to others.

To answer our opening question: Culture has everything to do with creating and sustaining an inspired workplace where positivity prevails. And yes, we can all help to make that illusion a reality.


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