Culture is a word with many adaptations. It is reflective of art, science, education, people, nations, civilizations, and corporations. There is family culture, organizational culture, and business culture. There is culture of habit and cultures for growth.
And yet, for all of its usage, it is a vaguely defined word.
I prefer to think of culture in scientific terms, as the Petri dish (the environment) for controlled growth.
In corporate terms, every company has an environment, a framework in which the company operates. This environment, a corporate Petri dish of sorts, can be a grand experiment or a great disaster, depending on the conditions for growth.
How can you, as a leader, develop the right kind of corporate culture?
Start with the right container.
Every organization needs some form of structure. Structure provides freedom within boundaries. Show me an organization with no solid planning structure, budget, or policies and procedures, and I’ll show you an organization bound for disaster.
Add the proper organisms.
The fact is, you can grow a disease or a cure in the same Petri dish. What you get depends on what you place in the dish. Plant bad seeds – bad attitudes – within an organization, and it will spread like cancer. Plant great employees with positive attitudes, and you create a healthy organization.
Maintain an environment conducive to growth.
Having structure is great. Having outstanding employees is great. But if you don’t provide an environment conductive to growth, it will kill the organization. Scientists go to great lengths to protect and feed their cultures so they grow. Are you, as the leader of your organization, protecting your culture so it grows as well? Are you providing your employees with training opportunities so they can experience personal growth and career advancement? Are you communicating with them so they feel they are an integral part of the mission of the organization? Do you care about – and for – your people? Are you protecting their interests as much as your own in the decisions you make?
Will you make “culture” the 2015 Word of the Year for your organization?