Why culture is a secret weapon
And yet, conversations determine culture, and culture is the secret weapon of great organizations. I have heard many leaders say that culture is more important than strategy. Culture is ‘the way we do things around here’ and it’s the only sustainable point of differentiation for many organizations. A strong culture of positive behaviours, driven by powerful values, means that the actions of the organization – at every touch point – will be the right ones. No leader can know about every decision being taken in the name of their organization, but the actions of an individual can land a global company in hot water, and when that happens, all eyes turn to the leader.
We live in a constantly and rapidly changing world. The only solution is a culture of agility. However, such responsiveness will only occur when people are talking to each other all the time and have relationships of trust.
Have you experienced a year without change? Unlikely. Much more likely is that you have experienced multiple, organization-wide changes. You might have had a change of leader, a change in the marketplace, redundancies, a merger or acquisition, new computer and IT systems, changes in products and services, moves into new markets and new geographies, or even changes in strategy. Some of you have even had all of the above. Seems incredible, but it is true. I am dealing with one client right now, as I write this, who is experiencing all of the above.
Without the benefit of constant and courageous conversations during periods of rapid change and uncertainty, people can rapidly lose sight of what it is they should be doing, lose connection with the people they depend on to achieve their goals, lose sight of the things they need to know in order to get the job done, and even lose faith in the future. Fear, anxiety and frustration lead to poor performance and failure – the exact opposite of what is needed. Where there is constant change, agility becomes a winning asset. In this sense, agility is both an attitude and an attribute. When people see change as a normal part of doing business, and as an opportunity to develop and grow, their attitudes are more positive. When they have an organizational ability to rapidly converse and make choices, and their attitudes are positive, you have a competitive edge.