Culture is not just what we say; it is what we do and how we do it.

If you were to ask any leader to describe their organisation’s culture, few would say “in our culture we don’t promote risk taking, we want our people to have the same old ideas, and in our business it’s all about control (my control)”.  And yet so often it is the very culture that they create.

When we talk to leaders about the kind of culture that they want their organisation to have, they talk about empowering their people to achieve amazing outcomes, they talk about creating a culture of innovation and measured risk taking and they definitely talk about decentralising control and power so that everyone has ownership of what they do.  Unfortunately few organisations that we see have a culture which promotes this kind of behaviour.

When we talk to staff about the kind of culture that they work in they often describe control at the top, a fear of making mistakes, suspicion  of other people’s motives and more – and this is in the organisations that we have been invited into, the ones who do value a different way of thinking.  So even as their leaders are talking the right talk about engagement and empowerment something deeper is going on within the organisation – they might be talking it, but they are definitely not walking it.

Identifying the culture that an organisation should have is only a small part of the culture equation; most important is to identify the kinds of structures and behaviours that underpin that culture, the things that do not, and then practicing each and every day.  Everyone in the organisation needs to be on the same page as to what is and is not part of the culture so that they can” say, think and do” in a consistent way.

There are some simple steps that you can look at in order to create a new culture;

  • identifying the culture that would support the kind of organisation you want to have
  • auditing the systems and structures that exist in the organisation and ensuring that they enable the culture to be established and maintained
  • discussing what the culture looks like, feels like and sounds like at all levels of the organisation to ensure that everyone “gets it”
  • understand that it takes a while for the new culture to be embedded, so you will need to provide feedback and support at all levels of the organisation as everyone learns how to walk the talk

Whether you need to start from scratch, tweak what you have got or simply maintain an existing culture – creating a positive and productive culture requires more than just a discussion, it is the consistent demonstration of that culture that is critical to having and maintaining a fabulous working environment.

Culture – identify it, say it, think it, do it!

Avatar photo

Written by Lisa Smith

Twitter LinkedIn

Lisa is a professional thinker dedicated to helping people unlock their innate creativity and to empower them to think differently – for themselves. She is passionate about building innovative cultures and about harnessing and engaging talent to create thinking communities. Lisa holds an MBA, specialising in organisational change and innovation, which forms the nucleus of her work. She relishes opportunities to share the Minds at Work thinking strategies with government bodies, socially responsible corporate, educators, community groups and farmers, helping them to turn their big ideas into realities.