Cultures, like personalities, aren’t just one thing.
There is our organizational culture on our best days…
…on days when things are going badly.
…when the going gets tough.
…when we are facing a risk.
…when we are balancing between the short and long term.
…when we are stressed.
…when faced with a crisis.
…or an unexpected challenge
…in different offices, functions, geographies.
…when we talk about ourselves to others.
…when we talk about ourselves to ourselves.
In each situation, different elements of culture show themselves. Most of the things that come out aren’t the things you’re writing on the wall or in the employee manual.
What you should care about are the elements of your culture…
…that don’t change regardless of the situation, or the ups and downs, or the people involved.
…that you’re willing to uphold even if it means sacrificing immediate results.
…that make you different from everywhere else.
…and that help you deliver sustained, differentiated performance over time.
Here’s a hack for a culture exploration.
Step 1, the easy part: get a group of team members together and ask them to jot down, privately, how ‘we’ act in the long list of situations on the first list.
Step 2, which is tough and daring: have an honest conversation about what everyone wrote down.