Human Capital

Wipeout Culture

February 1, 2018


There’s no shortage of sexy axioms about culture, and so I’ll spare you.

Have you ever noticed how people THINK they are good at something when the reality is something different?

I’ve seen good VC’s, CEO’s and Chiefs of People in their “Ted Talk” moments offer impressive shtick on the value, utility and advantage of a great company culture, and then engage in completely culture-sabotaging behavior, and just get washing-machined.

I aspire to influence HOW people think more than WHAT they think. Some leaders want a culture of innovation, others a culture of efficiency. Some try to do both. Sigh. But whatever culture you think is best, (ie. WHAT you think), here are four foundational ways of HOW I recommend that any shepherd (…was gonna say “culture Kahuna”…felt over the top) of a company’s culture begin thinking:

1. Begin seeing culture as the total sum of assumptions, values and beliefs of each individual within your organization.
2. Begin thinking about your company’s culture essentially as its internal brand. Therefore, enculturation = internal brand development.
3. Understand that your company’s external brand is an outcropping of its internal brand…NOT the other way around.
4. Finally, realize that building a strong internal brand — one that is comprehended across the organization — is very difficult to build. But killing it is easy.

“Our belief is that a company’s culture and a company’s brand are just two sides of the same coin. The brand is just a lagging indicator of the culture.” Tony Hsieh, CEO, Zappos.com (@tonyhsieh)

So think of these four ideas as the equivalent of your company’s cultural takeoff. Apply these principles and you’re stoked. Don’t follow them, and post-nasal drip will be the least of your worries.

Next post will discuss more specifically what aspiring enculturators can do. In the meantime, wait for the right set wave, paddle HARD and FAST, be smart, do not fight the wave and don’t botch the takeoff!


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