CULTURE | It's Time to Act!

“When all is said and done, more is said than done” – Lou Holtz

Love this quote by Lou Holtz and it seems appropriate given the state-of-affairs around CULTURE.

If you are like me I am tired of hearing about CULTURE and its influence on organizational performance. It’s time to do something about it. But most organizations haven’t a clue about where to begin. And often it’s left to a staff function (generally HR) where it’s measured (generally on an annual basis) begetting all manner of action plans that never penetrate the operating fabric of the organization. Nothing changes and the time and effort taken to influence and shape CULTURE is wasted. Such has been the state-of-affairs for years.

It’s been allowed to continue as organizations go through the motions as its been accepted as good practice but I dare say its not viewed as important to organizational success. It’s not viewed as an imperative that CULTURE be addressed for the effect it has on performance, now and in the future. Why? Because it is mysterious. Because, in general, we have not been trained in what it is and how to shape it. That’s been left to the PhD’s that spout academic theory and practice and when applied to the work place no one seems to understand. So it goes.

Here’s an interesting quote by Steve Stanton taken from his book Smart Work | Why Organizations Full of Intelligent People Do So Many Dumb Things and What You Can Do About It. It’s an entertaining and informative read. I recommend it.

“Leadership’s most important role may be to shape the organization’s culture by articulating a set of shared values. But culture manifests in the actual behaviors of employees. It is in the realm of action that what we say becomes who we are. In other words, values are an attempt to modify culture, but that success can only be assessed through behaviors”

Who’s behaviors? Yes, employees, but recognize they follow Leadership behavior. Leadership has to walk the talk right up to the front line. Period, end of story.

So, what talk do they need to walk? Well, the values they espouse that one assumes are supportive of organizational purpose and how it is achieved. But are they? And often are too high level to be actionable.

It’s a simple formula really. Articulate the values the organization needs to exhibit to achieve its purpose then articulate the behaviors that live these values. All are accountable to live the values and exhibit the behaviors that achieve them, leadership included!

So, this begs the question – what are the values and behaviors that we need to embed in any given organization? Let me suggest that these are shaped by external stimuli to which an organization responds to survive. As the environment shifts so do the accents on values and behaviors.

Today the accent is on customer acquisition/loyalty, innovation, agility, and speed to market as technology has ushered in an age of accelerated change. And this is not going away anytime soon and will only intensify. What are values that support these organizational capabilities? #Collaboration you might say. #Curiousity you might say.

What are the behaviors that foster #Collaboration? #Trust you might say. But this is not enough. What are the behaviors that foster #Trust? Honesty? Integrity? Transparency? Accountability? But still this is not enough. What are the behaviors that foster honesty, integrity, transparency, and accountability? Ah, psychological safety is the response. That it is safe to exhibit these behaviors in the workplace. I think you get the picture, right?

The message here is that we need to get to the root drivers of desired behaviors that embed the articulated values of the organization. And that leaders need to walk the talk right up to the front line where the action is, where the work of the organization and human interactions take place. In other words, the informal (unseen) operating fabric of the organization.

Let's continue to "talk about it" but let's "do something about it"!

And if you want to do something about it, let us know! We'll empower you to shape the culture you want to prosper in the Age of Accelerating Change fueled by Everything Digital.

It's in your hands.

Time to act!

Frank Wander

Frank Wander, a former CIO, is the founder and CEO of PeopleProductive (, and the author of Transforming IT Culture, How to Use Social Intelligence, Human Factors and Collaboration to Create an IT Department That Outperforms (Wiley, 2013). This unique book is the first operator’s manual for human infrastructure and will help you successfully transform your leadership style and organization.

PeopleProductive has taken that concept to the human side of the enterprise. We similarly help you find, measure and fix a broad spectrum of behavioral, emotional and enablement issues. For the first time, you can eliminate the inefficiency that holds highly productive people back and measurably increase productivity.

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