Peter Drucker, the well-known pioneer of management education, once said:
Culture eats strategy for breakfast. Let’s leave aside whether that is true or not, and focus on the meaning of culture.
Institutional culture is the sum of the shared habits in an organisation.
People don’t even think about those habits, but unconsciously perform them. When questioned, they are “the way things are done here”.
In an emergency room, the difference between good and bad institutional habits can be the difference between a patient’s life and death.
In any organisation, culture can create meaning, engagement, and productivity.
Or cynicism, disengagement, and wasted energy.
What is the culture in your organisation?
To reflect on that, it might be helpful to work through Brené Brown’s ten questions to organisations, for the sake of evoking transformation (B. Brown, Daring Greatly):
1) What behaviors are rewarded? Punished?
2) Where and how are people actually spending their resources (time, money, attention)?
3) What rules and expectations are followed, enforced, and ignored?
4) Do people feel safe and supported talking about how they feel and asking for what they need?
5) What are the sacred cows? Who is most likely to tip them? Who stands the cows back up?
6) What stories are legend and what values do they convey?
7) What happens when someone fails, disappoints, or makes a mistake?
8) How is vulnerability (uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure) perceived?
9) How prevalent are shame and blame and how are they showing up?
10) What’s the collective tolerance for discomfort? Is the discomfort of learning, trying new things, and giving and receiving feedback normalized, or is there a hight premium put on comfort (and how does that look)?