When You Look at Your Culture, What Do You See?

Gustavo Grodnitzky Culture Trumps Everything, Organizational Culture

To measure the state of your company culture, you can evaluate it using various metrics. Surveys, statistics and feedback will all give you valuable information. But there’s also a quicker way to get a gut check on what’s really happening in your culture.

Sometimes we keep our heads so buried in our work that we miss what’s going on all around us. So try this exercise. Imagine that you are a documentary filmmaker. When you focus the lens of your camera on the interactions within your organization, what do you see? You know what your culture is supposed to be about (at least I hope you do!), but what is your camera really recording?

Last week, I spoke at a conference for ARCOS, a software company that creates resource management solutions for the utility industry. If you had been filming this event, your camera would have recorded things like an awards ceremony honoring business partners who helped ARCOS develop and improve their product. From this ceremony, you would have footage of business partners performing their own lyrics to popular songs they rewrote to praise ARCOS and their software. Authentic joy and connection would come through in every frame.

That celebration of collaboration demonstrates something profound about ARCOS. Internally and externally, the company cultivates and harvests connectedness. You can’t counterfeit a culture that’s this powerful. It comes only from great focus, intention and effort.

Annie Dillard wrote, “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” If you filmed a typical day at ARCOS, you’d see all the work they put into building relationships within the company and with clients. You’d see how this happens even in a highly regulated and competitive industry, without a zero-sum, cutthroat ethos. At ARCOS, they are true believers that profit follows culture. They focus on culture first, and the profits have most certainly followed.

Warren Buffet and Bill Gates are two of the most successful people the world has ever known. Through their philanthropy, they have developed a well-documented friendship. In a recent interview, Buffet told Gates that one of his measures of success was, “Do the people you care about love you back?” Gates responded, “I think that is about as good a metric as you will find.”

ARCOS was sharing a lot of love at their annual conference and it was all coming back to them.  That is the type of success that can only come from culture.

So let’s turn the camera back on your organization. What is the most important component of the culture you want? Do you know? What does it look like? What would the camera record as evidence that your culture embodies what you desire? When you can answer those questions, you’re more likely to achieve a successful culture.

I’d love to hear your questions or comments. If you would like to discuss this topic further, just drop me a note.

Keep cultivating your culture!