Standing tall on culture

The call was unexpected; I wasn't even at my desk. I'd headed to the park for a break from the screen after an intensive morning pulling together ideas for a team-building workshop.

As I watched the council mowers, breathing in the scent of freshly cut grass, my client explained that she'd been wanting to talk to me for some time about a brave new initiative that would take all her courage to make happen. She told me she was wavering, and unsure how she'd get her people to buy into what she wanted to propose.

Image © Andrew Writer, Flickr CC

Image © Andrew Writer, Flickr CC

Because the company that she works for – adores working for, in fact – is a consumer goods organisation with a predominantly 'red' culture.

Her people, hired intentionally to fit the business's needs as they were defined on day one, are results driven, and significantly focused on achievement and getting the job done. They're competitive,  goal-oriented, and the senior leadership team drives hard to get the results they've envisioned. There's a major emphasis on winning. Success, for this firm, is about market share and reputation.

That culture grew out of their needs in the start-up phase, and it's served them well in growing to where they are now  – a well known and popular brand with a cracking share of a crowded market.

But a small group of leaders on the SMT – my client included – have spotted that the 'red' culture that's been at the heart of the company's success to date could now be well and truly eating their strategy for breakfast.

Having spotted the mismatch, a handful of members are starting to see that the time and effort they will need to invest in exploring and potentially redesigning its culture is worthwhile. Because when your culture enables the accomplishment of your goals, success becomes infinitely more scaleable.

For them, a predominantly red culture – with that strong focus on results and competition – leaves little space, for example, for the more 'yellow' cultural traits and behaviours of entrepreneurship, innovation, and creativity. Risk taking and experimentation simply aren't part of 'the way things are done' there.

And it also makes a 'green' culture of mentoring and loyalty pretty much impossible. People are culturally straight-jacketed into focusing on goals and successes in much the same way us Brits reach for a cup of tea in times of stress.

It comes down to this: what kind of culture will allow your business to meet and beat its strategic goals?

What’s your culture?

If you're not crystal clear about your business culture, what colour it is now, and what you need it to be, take a look at the descriptions on this Culture Eats Strategy For Breakfast page – it  will help you laser-in on the culture that's currently driving your business and how it might needs to shift to accelerate your progress in the right direction.

Over to you

Do you agree that culture is everything? Is your culture eating your strategy for breakfast? Come over to twitter – and let us know what you think.

PS: Spread the word

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