By Gerry Murray. 25-04-2021
(Scroll down for a laugh)
"Culture eats strategy for breakfast" ~ Peter Drucker
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I was chatting the other night with a good friend, who's a regular reader of this Sunday post, and the topic of culture came up. We were reflecting on how the true culture of an organisation is conveyed through conversations at the water cooler and coffee machine.
What people say and how they say it in these informal settings tends to be a more accurate reflection of an organisation's culture than fancy vision, mission and value statements.
Culture is about how things get done around here and the cultural tone is usually set by the behaviour of the Senior Leadership team. You'll note that it's not what they say that matters, it's more what they do that people notice and this defines how people interpret what's acceptable and not acceptable. These behaviours feed the stories that become part of the folkloric fabric of an organisation.
So, are we ready for a cultural reset?
Covid placed a new order on how we work. Most of our interactions have become transactions online and we have to work really hard to introduce those informal conversational moments that are so essential to the lifeblood of a culture. It is possible in one-to-one online settings but, in online group settings, less so.
So, it's likely that many organisational cultures are currently in a sort of limbo. Like in any dynamic organism this presents both some interesting challenges and possibilities.
If you had a super duper culture, is it still there?
If your culture was languishing is this now an opportunity to breathe new life into it?
My advice would be to engage with your people to either reconfirm or redefine your post-Covid culture in a way that will energise and empower your organisation and teams. Avoid the temptation to prescribe a new culture because the real culture will emerge and live at the water cooler. Tap into this. Create new post-Covid stories that will inspire people to give of their best and perform well.
So, if you're a leader reading this, don't squander this golden opportunity! It could be a while before you get a 2nd chance...
A man goes into a pet shop to buy a parrot. The shop owner points to three identical looking parrots on a perch and says, “The parrot on the left costs €500.”
“Why does the parrot cost so much?” asks the man. The owner says “Well the parrot knows how to use a computer.”
The man then asks about the next parrot and learns that it costs €1,000 because it can do everything the first parrot can do plus it knows how to use the UNIX operating system.
Naturally, the increasingly startled man asks about the third parrot, only to be told that it costs €2,000.
Needless to say, this begs the question, “What can it do?”
To which the owner replies,
“To be honest I have never seen it do anything but the other two call him boss!”
An old lady walked into a pet store, found a parrot and asked the owner if she could buy it. The owner said, “Heck no! That parrot has a bad mouth! Trust me – you do not want that parrot!”
She said, “I can teach it good manners.”
But, when she got home the parrot said a bad word, so she put it in the freezer for 10 seconds.
She took it out and said, “Did you learn your lesson?” It said another bad word so she put it back in for 30 seconds. She took it out and asked if it learned its lesson yet.
The parrot said “Brr… Yes, I learned my lesson, but, what did the chicken do?”
Why did the scarecrow get promoted?
Because he was out standing in his field!