Paraphrasing (better, stealing from) American anthropologist Clifford Geertz (1926-2006) a corporate culture, or, I would say, a subculture that you are shaping on your area, division, or teams, provides your people with two models: (1) a model of the world and (2) a model for the world.
(1) A model of the world: by shaping a culture you are implying a concept of the world, a ‘worldview’; this is how it works, this is what it is. You may not use the word ‘rules’, but this is what you are giving. The most important of those rules are the unwritten ones.
This is not ‘a theory’. We all are doing this all the time. I am doing this by writing these Daily Thoughts, and not other Daily Thoughts. I don’t set out to provide ‘a model’, but after so many regular posts, this is what I am doing. And the point is that, good or bad, we need to be aware of this and reflect.
Can we stop and think ‘the model of the world’ that we are creating? Could we, each of us, articulate it? Our ‘model of the world’ in our business? Family? Scary if we can’t, scary, perhaps, if we do.
(2) A model for the world: this is the side of the model of ‘living in that world’. Our models are not theoretical constructs, are also guides, morals, dos and don’ts, they have consequences. If you do this, you’ll get that. When we find A, we do B; the ‘social algorithms’ I have spoken about before.
Geertz spoke of these things in the context of religions, that he interpreted as ‘cultures’. But this frame applies also broadly to our (sub) cultural and business worlds that we shape every day.
I am serious. This is not a theoretical and vague concept. Speaking for myself, I have always gained a lot of ground in the understanding of a client culture, sometimes short cutting weeks of ‘getting it’, by asking myself these questions in these terms. ‘What’s is the worldview here?’, and then I write down a series of lines, statements, assumptions, hypothesis or ‘clear signs I see’.
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Behaviours create cultures. Master behaviours, agree upon them, declare the non negotiable ones, spread them, and you’ll get culture. Company culture is the petri dish where everything grows
Culture cannot be taught. It’s something lived, and, in behavioural terms, something that grows from behaviours. Behaviours scale up via social influence, so suddenly you have a causal link between behaviours, influence and culture. Get the first two right, you get a great third.