The Definition of Culture

The Definition of Culture

I had this conversation with a colleague yesterday about culture and it never ceases to amaze me that culture is still difficult to define for most people. He rightly said that in order for a business to be successful, culture has to be consistent. I agree! The problem with this thinking is that if there is no central guidance or tip of the spear or North Star to follow, there will be no consistent culture.

In the world of sports, there is a clearly defined mission to win championships. In every season for every sport during every year the same mantra holds true.  The coach, players, and management say, we need to win a championship.

It’s very different in business though, because most businesses do not have a guidance system that says this is clearly what we need to do. Most leaders say that we need to follow our mission or a business plan or the vision statement, but what ends up happening in each of those cases is the mission statement gets posted on the wall or in a boardroom and the business plan sits on a shelf somewhere and collects dust, so there is no guidance system or North Star to follow on a daily basis.

How can one determine what a consistent culture looks like if there is no clearly defined direction or guidance? The answer is easy, you cannot do it!

Once your brand identity has been clearly defined and you understand what behaviors, what attitudes, what visuals to use, your business grows, become more profitable and more valuable. In other words, how we act and how we behave is critical to the consistency of the delivery of our brand promise and culture.

As Stephen Covey pointed out several years ago, not having a goal or North Star is like being in the middle of a vast ocean in your vessel without a compass.

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