Before talking about culture, we have to talk about values, and to talk about values we have to evaluate and talk about behaviors at all levels of the organization. I’ve created the following formulas to help demonstrate:
B + T = V
(Behaviors + Time = Values)
V x E𝐧 = C
(Values x No. Employees = Culture)
(B + T) x E𝐧 = C
When looking at culture through a math equation, we can easily see that culture is the expression on the right side of the equation, or the answer / result. Dictionary.com defines culture as “the quality in a person that arises from a concern for what is regarded as excellent in arts, letters, manners, scholarly pursuits, etc.” Arises from is synonymous with answer, or result, or outcome. If we were working out a math problem and get the answer wrong, we would go back to the work we did on the left side of the equation to find the error(s) and work through them until we get the right answer. Using this math analogy, if an organization doesn’t have the culture it desires, it has to go back to the left side of the equation above and figure out what behaviors aren’t consistent with it’s values. It’s a top-to-bottom review of employee behavior. There may also be an issue with the values themselves. Then it’s a review of what went in to establishing the organization's core values in the first place. It’s also important to note the entire process of establishing core values is not a set-it and forget-it process. To achieve the desired culture (outcome), the process has to be ingrained in the daily activities of the organization. This is why it’s much easier said than done. It takes genuine leadership at all levels, living and breathing the core values, and driving the effort within their teams to motivate and encourage others to do the same.
So culture, in and of itself, is a buzzword thrown around and often treated as a symptom needing a prescription like ping pong tables, bouncy balls, and free snacks in the break-room. Let a great culture arise from great leadership and commitment to driving behaviors aligned with core values.