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Why your organisation needs to talk about culture

“Your company’s culture is something you’re willing to hurt for on a bad day.” This powerful statement was just one that got my brain buzzing yesterday when I spent the day surrounded by fellow culturevists.

culturevistWe’re a network of people interested in how organisations work, and the role culture plays to enable employees and their companies to thrive.

Eighty of us met in London for a day of networking, learning and listening.

Matt Partovi @matthewpartovi leads the Culturevist network and it’s a pleasure to be part of.  There were some inspiring speakers including: Dame Zarine Kharas from JustGiving, Alice Breeden from Google, Viktor Keleman from Facebook and EmmaJane Varley from HSBC.

From organisational psychologists to entrepreneurs, Directors of Comms to HR managers, we’re a diverse group. I met some incredibly interesting people and had conversations that are still whirling around my head today. (Disclosure: Matt kindly invited me to attend, so I had a complimentary ticket).

What is your company’s culture like?

How do you define it? Is is consistent? Does the external perception of your culture match up to the internal reality?

It is important to talk about culture in your organisation because it needs to be tangible and actionable. It’s not purely the domain of HR or Comms, but should be part of the way you do business.

You also need to keep an eye on your culture – do you know whether it has changed and evolved? And have you responded as a result?

What does culture mean?

I like the definition of culture as “the way things are done around here” (Deal and Kennedy, 1982).

What definition do you use? How do you communicate your culture?

Other quotes about culture:

  • Maintaining one’s culture, values and traditions is beyond price – Getano Lui
  • Culture eats strategy for breakfast – Peter Drucker
  • The only thing of real importance that leaders do is create and manage culture – Edgar Schein
  • Customers will never love a company until the employees love it first – Simon Sinek
  • Your brand is your culture – Tony Hsieh, zappos
  • An organisation’s ability to learn, and translate that learning into action rapidly, is the ultimate competitive advantage – Jack Welch
  • You don’t learn to walk by following rules. You learn by doing, and by falling over – Richard Branson
  • Celebrate what you want to see more of – Tom Peters.

What did I learn yesterday?

I learnt about gratitude…

Do you do that in your organisation? Google realised they need to remind employees what they have rather than continually introduce new perks. For example they held a benefits roadshow internally to celebrate what they already have.

Culturevist There was ample opportunities for people to talk. Really talk.

I’ve blogged before about how I learn as much from my peers as speakers on stage. The Culturevist event encouraged us to network, which worked well.

I worked with a group of fellow culture enthusiasts during the hackday in the afternoon.

We examined the role of language in reinforcing, defining and communicating culture inside organisations (pictured).

Other topics delegates worked on included redesigning Maslow’s hierarchy of needs to focus on ‘the height of happiness’ for companies, ideas for dedicated tools and apps to measure and create cultural artefacts, and lots more.

Here’s a flavour of the day

Well done Matt and team. Days like yesterday reinforce why I love working in this field.

What is your organisational culture like?

If you have a story to share, see my guest article guidelines and please get in touch if you’re able to share with readers of the All Things IC blog.

Further reading

culturevistSee the Culturevist website

Follow them on Twitter @culturevist 

Culturevists untie to share ideas on company culture – published January 2014.

Post author: Rachel Miller
First published on the All Things IC blog 11 February 2016.

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