Culture – to create and protect

After a brief hiatus from this blog to have another baby and get life organized, I’m back!

Things happened this week at work that have got me thinking (more than usual, which is already a lot!) about Organizational Culture… That nebulous, intangible atmosphere that surrounds all of us in our workplaces.

Many people say culture is synonymous with your values, that it’s set from the top and that it’s represented in everything from the office layout, to your approach to problem-solving.

In my mind it’s simple. Culture is co-created by everyone in the system. It’s the way we act and interact with each other and our customers. It’s reinforced through people practices, and modeled by leaders… but no one person has the power alone to set or transform cultureCulture.

This week we lost one of our leaders… A passionate, kind man who for many was an inspiration. He left on his own accord, and for his own reasons. The reaction in our system was varied. Some people understanding and supporting the need for new leadership, and others feeling hopeless with the loss. He was instrumental, after all, in helping to shape the culture and signature sense of community that we all hold dear.

But what I know is this. Emotions, connection and community run deep. Far deeper than any one person alone can create or destroy. My want for our system as we go through this transition is to allow everyone to tap into their own power around creating culture; to identify those things that they will fiercely protect through this change and the inevitable others to come; to own our culture as their own; and then to act and interact in a way that aligns completely with the culture we’re building.

I’m biased, but we are creating something special together. That’s what makes us peers in the deepest sense of the word… Friends, collaborators, co-conspirators in our quest for the extraordinary.

If you had to pick 2-3 things in your own culture to fiercely protect or amplify in the spirit of excellence, what would you choose?