Until now, the best definition I had heard for Culture is “the way we do things around here.” While that provides a good idea of what culture means, it leaves it difficult to measure.
On Sunday, Andy Stanley at North Point Community Church defined Culture as the collective conscience of a group: The ought to’s and the ought not’s. In other words, the culture is the collection of behaviors that the members of a group generally believe you should and shouldn’t do.
The new definition provides a way to measure a culture as the aggregation of acceptable and unacceptable behaviors. When you can measure something, then you are able to deliberately change it.
Consider whether the following behaviors are acceptable or unacceptable (or ought to or ought not) within your organization:
- Sharing ideas or feedback outside the “chain of command”
- Holding peers accountable to deadlines or performance
- Celebrating team successes
- Bringing your kids to work when no one can watch them
- Playing practical jokes
- Working on a team outside your area of expertise
- Texting or typing during meetings
- Letting a female coworker have the last seat at the table
- Hosting competitions between employees
- Deference to titles
- Lending a helping hand when a coworker suffers a hardship
- Showing up late to meetings
- Working independently on a project
Of course, these are just the tip of the iceberg. Each organization has its own quirks and implied necessary behaviors.
Inquiry: What ought members of your organization do or not do?
For a useful assessment, check out the Organizational Culture Inventory (OCI). I haven’t used it in practice, but I remember using it for an exercise during my MBA program years ago.