I was recently reintroduced to Lt. Gen. Rick Lynch’s book by the same name as the title. I have always liked the bluntness of the message, especially as it applies to Organizational Culture. The importance of the value and impact of culture begins with understanding what culture really is and that it has multiple moving parts. Once we define what culture is, we can then look at how culture affects organization execution externally as well as how culture impacts organizational operations internally. As leaders continue to fully grasp the nuances of 21st Century Leadership with all its changes, one truth remains constant; Culture will ultimately determine whether success is fleeting or sustainable! Culture is defined as the system of shared values, beliefs, attitudes and behaviors that develops within an organization and guides the behavior of the members.
Culture exists on some level with or without leadership doing anything at all to influence it. It is said the culture of an organization is defined by the time the 20th member is hired. The real issue, then, is whether the culture of the organization, whether for-profit, non-profit, private, public, large or small, is an asset or a liability to the Vision and the Strategy of that organization. How does the culture enable the right behavior of its members to execute its goals in a way that creates sustainable success while at the same time helping members deal with the day-to-day issues of working together?
The ability of a culture to adapt to constant changes in the business environment is crucial to an organization’s success. I would go so far as to say that the culture itself is defined as a one of adaptability as its primary characteristic. Having done this in previous organizations I’ve led, the ability to adjust to environmental changes was paramount to our ability to continue growing despite recessions, industry meltdowns, merger threats and terrorist attacks. All because we knew we had to adapt…or die!
How would you characterize your culture and how is it contributing to sustainable success?