What is Culture?

What is Culture?

It is a great question and one that more and more people are asking. It is also a topic more and more people are paying attention to recently. Whether you are thinking about it or not…you are part of your Culture, and you…yes YOU, and influencing that Culture.

Before we decide how you can affect your Culture, let’s decide what Culture really is! John Maxwell said, “Culture is who we are now. Who we are now determines our success now.” Truer words have never been spoken but that doesn’t really define it. Peter Drucker captured Culture’s power when he said, “Culture eats Strategy for breakfast”. Also true. We can plan, and think, and meet, and brainstorm, and document, and idealize, and, and, and, but until we take action, it is still just Strategy. Even when we have a clear and decisive direction in which to run, if we don’t take every step in accordance with our concept, we undermine the Strategy. Culture is what happens in reality – on purpose or otherwise. Culture is how we drive Strategy…or hinder it. So then, Culture must have a direct correlation to action, right? If that is the case, then here is what I believe Culture can be described as:

Strategy is who we want to be tomorrow…Culture is who we are today!

Ok, Shawn. That is an apt description, but not truly a definition. Fair enough. Even though my mind thinks artistically and creatively, I keep coming back to an analytical thought I have about Culture. Culture, in my mind, can be formulized as such:

Culture is the balance between the behaviors we intentionally drive, and the behaviors we allow to occur.

Culture then is truly a resultant product. It is the solution to an equation:

Culture = Intentional Behaviors / Allowed Behaviors

Intentionality and allowance of behaviors both drive Culture, but often in different directions. If the sum of your intentional behaviors outweigh your behavioral tolerance threshold, you are driving a positive improvement in your Culture. If not, and you find that your potentially (likely) negative behavioral allowance is driving the Culture, you are probably not moving in lock step with your Strategy Concept.

So, how do we influence our Culture in a positive, impactful, and lasting way? Stay tuned!

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