Culture University

Positively impacting society on a global scale through culture awareness, education and action.

There’s a silent power within your organization that’s quietly moulding the patterns of behavior that will determine your culture. A survey probably won’t detect it, but identifying and shifting it will have a significant impact on performance. We’re not talking about values or behaviors here, but something far less universal and more specific to individual organizations. The dominant, but tacit, influencer that has the capacity to both limit and liberate a business: our shared organizational beliefs.

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According to Josh Bersin, demographic upheaval coupled with digital technology has greatly contributed to a rapid increase in the rate of change. This accelerated rate is, in turn, leading to new social contracts and business considerations. Bersin is responsible for long-term strategy at Bersin by Deloitte and is frequently published in Forbes.com and Chief Learning Officer magazine. He cites an MIT study revealing that 90% of CEOs said their company is experiencing disruption. Ninety percent! Given these turbulent times, the conversation about culture is more relevant than ever.

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Passion and excitement, as well as judgment and fear, characterize the current political environment in the United States. The recent election was the most surprising call for change in government in my lifetime, and it was also a call for meaningful culture change. Government agencies must prepare to accelerate improvements, but the current culture and leadership of these agencies will likely be the greatest barriers to success.

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To “do less, better” isn’t something most leaders and their organizations embrace. The seemingly more attractive (and logical) option is to do more and more – the theory being the more markets, products, and businesses a company engages in, the better the results. This is not true.

Do Less Better is a strategy and a culture; it’s also the name of my book. And for organizations and their leaders, the proponents of this discipline worship focus, loathe complexity, and enjoy success.

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Workplace culture is shaped from the top down. One of the costliest mistakes to organizations is the inability or unwillingness of its leaders to successfully facilitate difficult conversations. The difficulty may lie in the manager’s skill level. He or she simply doesn’t know how to coach an employee on a performance issue. Or a leader may be embarrassed to talk with an employee about careless social skills. Or the difficulty may be a more complex cultural issue that goes unseen until the problem becomes national news.

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Your CEO probably doesn’t wake up in a cold sweat thinking about your organization’s onboarding program, but maybe (s)he should. It shocks me that onboarding doesn’t have a more elevated importance in many organizations and isn’t more carefully created to support an organization’s culture. Often, the connection between onboarding and strategy isn’t clear, and details about what makes that organization unique aren’t discussed in detail, if at all, and onboarding is deemed ‘just’ training … a necessary evil.

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