Culture eats strategy for breakfast. Why? Because even a beautifully conceived strategy won’t be executed the right way if people’s values and beliefs are not aligned. In other words, culture is not mandated; it is shaped from the beginning.
That’s why culture matters; in both the business and governmental context. As a leader, you can’t let it slide. It is the one thing we have control over from the start. But many organizations jump straight into action, and as a result many a company or institutions operate like chickens without a head figuring out what they are supposed to do but not really achieving anything.
To help you take a step back and reflect on how you may right the way or get off to a great start, here are four questions to help you think about the culture you wish to create for your business or institution:
What kind of culture do we want to build and why?
This is a very important question that is rarely asked. Simple, ask your self: what kind of legacy do you want to leave behind? How do you want to be remembered? Whatever your answer to those questions is, it will be enabled by the culture you create.
Do you have a clear idea of what matters? What are those three to five behaviors that will define you, and how do they drive outcomes? It doesn’t get any simple than that.
What are our values?
Similar to the previous question, this is the core of your mindset. What’s sacred and what’s a taboo?
How do we want people to think and act?
It isn’t enough to think differently, we must act differently. When both align, magic happens. We rarely think in terms of specific behaviors we wish to see, even rarer is if we model the way. Think about it, how do we expect people to decide on a course of action if we’re not in the room?
What evidence, individual and/or organization, will tell us this culture is developing?
Consistent behavior defines culture, what are the behaviors we wish to see? What are the outcomes that those behaviors will drive?
Bottom line: Culture matters. It isn’t a one time thing, a plug and play, or a set it an forget it exercise; it is ongoing. Strong, purposeful cultures, build smarter companies, better products, happier employees and better returns.