August 7, 2023
Embrace Culture as Your Organisational DNA
Culture, the often overlooked and all-pervasive enterprise-wide organisational DNA, plays a crucial role in determining the success of your strategy and the sustainability of your brand. It serves as a dynamic entity that can be shaped by the past while continuously honed by the emerging business, social, economic, political, and customer context. However, many organisations struggle with culture because they either take a simplistic approach or lack the knowledge to engage in rich and vibrant culture conversations.
To build a thriving culture that resonates across the entire organisation, leaders must understand that culture is not just managed from the outside-in; it demands leadership from the inside-out. There are four essential supporting pillars of culture that act as the foundation of a successful organisation.
1. Mission: The “Why” Behind What We Do
Attracting top talent begins with clarifying your organisation’s mission. Why do you do what you do? A compelling mission statement not only guides employees in their daily work but also attracts like-minded individuals who share the same sense of purpose. A clear and inspirational mission serves as the north star, aligning everyone towards a common goal and fostering a sense of unity and motivation.
2. Diversity: Fuelling Innovation and Growth
Diversity is not a buzzword; it’s a driving force behind innovation and growth. Embracing diversity in all its forms — be it race, gender, ethnicity, or background — creates a dynamic and inclusive workplace. When people with different perspectives come together, it sparks creativity, encourages outside-the-box thinking, and enables the organisation to better understand and serve diverse customer bases.
3. Brand: The Essence of Why Customers Choose You
Your brand is more than just a logo; it is the embodiment of your organisation’s values, promises, and reputation. It’s the answer to the question, “Why should customers buy from us?” A strong brand communicates authenticity, trustworthiness, and a unique value proposition that sets you apart from competitors. Building a compelling brand identity fosters customer loyalty and attracts top talent who wants to be part of a reputable and purpose-driven organisation.
4. Speed, Focus, and Anticipation: Thriving in a Rapidly Changing World
In today’s fast-paced business landscape, speed, focus, and anticipation are crucial for staying ahead of the competition. Embracing technology, simplifying processes, and fostering a culture that adapts quickly to change are essential for success. Speed and agility are not just about reacting swiftly to challenges; it’s about proactively anticipating future trends and opportunities. A culture that values speed and focus empowers employees to take calculated risks and drive innovation.
Framing Culture with Values and Vision
While the four pillars lay the foundation, an organisation’s values and vision provide the cultural canvas upon which everything else is built. Values give employees permission to act and represent the leadership’s point of view. Co-creating values with input from employees is important, but leaders must avoid the pitfalls of letting the process become too diluted. Instead, the values should resonate with all stakeholders, especially the customers.
In multicultural environments, defining values can be delicate. To overcome this challenge, think of values as guiding principles rather than dictating personal beliefs. By doing so, you can ensure that values align with the organisation’s mission while allowing individuals to retain their personal values.
Anchoring Culture: Addressing Mindset and Behaviour
A successful culture requires more than just embracing the drivers mentioned earlier. It necessitates addressing the cultural anchors — mindset and behaviour — at the top of the organisation. Leaders must be willing to let go of outdated practices, past histories, myths, and metaphors that hinder progress. Like an anchor thrown from the back of a car, these cultural anchors can weigh down progress and stifle innovation.
Completing the Picture: Managing the Informal Organisation
In any organisation, there exists a white space on the organisational chart — the informal organisation. It’s where the informal networks, relationships, and communication channels reside. Senior leaders must not ignore this space, as it can significantly impact the organisation’s success. Instead, they should actively manage the informal organisation, leveraging its strengths and aligning it with the broader cultural vision.
Cultivating a Thriving Culture: The Path to Empowered Organisations
To attract top talent and sustain organisational success, senior leaders must prioritise culture as their organisational DNA. By embracing the four pillars — mission, diversity, brand, and speed — and aligning them with the organisation’s values and vision, leaders can create a vibrant culture that attracts and retains the best talent. Addressing cultural anchors and managing the informal organisation completes the cultural canvas, ensuring that the organisation thrives in a rapidly changing world. Remember, culture is not a buzzword; it is the essence of your organisation’s identity and the key to unlocking its full potential.
Read more about the power of culture in attracting top talent and sustaining organisational success in “The 7 Questions Every CEO Should Ask About Culture“.