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The Pursuit of the Right Culture


I've been in the game for a while, not too long but for a while. My pursuit through the years has been and still remains an organization with the ideal culture.

By some of today's standards, a good culture can almost be aligned with buzz words or things; awesome bling hardware, beer and pizza Fridays, team building, bonuses, reward points, remote work, trips to an island once a year to celebrate, we use agile or the latest tech. Wonderful but these are side-effects of a either a defined, undefined or inherited culture.

Culture by definition is a set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an institution or organization.

An organization is the sum of their intentional attitudes, values, goals and practices. If you want a great organization, with a great culture, then the equation you are trying to solve for is (or thereabout):

my attitude,values,goals = companies attitude,values,goals

At various phases of our career, immaturity through to maturity - organization cultures will look different, some more attractive and some less, and that's largely because the reference point is you and your maturity. Your attitude, your values and your goals when well aligned with that of the organizations will find root in effective and satisfying work, or at the very least tell you, that you need to grow.

The Culture Test

Personally when I am surveying a company it doesn't stop at the interview, it doesn't stop when I sign the dotted line of my appointment, it's during my first few months of hire. I like to intentionally push the boundaries of it's leaders with care and kindness but very explicit intent. How do they think? How do they behave? I watch them. I study them. I listen to them. Does it align with the values espoused during the interview? Does it align with my own?

One of the best reflections of leadership is NOT seen in the light, but is only reflected in the darkest of times, when it is tested. That's the heart right. That's the litmus test of stated culture. It doesn't matter how amazing your localized team is, it's the heads of the organization that define the ambience and the playing field. When times are dark - high stakes, high stress, downturn, mistakes or in failure, watch them, and learn.

Culture is a way of coping with the world by defining it in detail.