In the ongoing work of helping individuals and companies shift and evolve their culture we are finding a fair amount of fuzziness and confusion related to the concept of what culture is in the first place. A couple of articles with rather interesting titles, Could a Great Corporate Culture Be Bad for Employees and Time Out! Stop Wasting Your Time Trying To Build A Company Culture, indicate that many people are lacking a clear understanding of what culture is and its role in leadership.

I also read of a new study that shows that 54% of CEOs are saying that culture is the biggest barrier to transformation, with tech coming in at 20%, and a very popular article that went viral, Culture Eats Strategy for Breakfast, speak to a growing understanding of the importance of culture to business performance, and all of these articles together point to a wide divergence of understandings.

Then over lunch recently Maria suggested that we start asking the question of what people think the effect that culture has on the world, which sparked a lengthy conversation and a new branch of our work, “The Culture Survey.” Beginning now, we are launching a survey in which we will invite people to fill out our online survey here, and we will also travel around to major city areas, beginning in the South East, situating ourselves in the business districts and stopping and inviting people to participate in a brief survey.

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“It is our firm belief that culture is the single most important thing we can focus on to drive business performance.”

We will ask a few brief questions beginning with profession and position, their definition of culture, what effect they think it has on the world, what effect they think it has on business performance, and so on. I will blog about the results on a city-by-city basis and seeing what insights we can extrapolate from both the data and the interactions we have with participants. Our aim is that the survey, both in the asking of the questions and in the content we share about the results, will stimulate more conversation related to culture.

We are not proposing to conduct a statistically significant survey, as our sample sizes will remain small in the beginning. Although there is the potential of getting other organizations involved and even a business school or two to round out our sample size and collection parameters so that the data can be taken more seriously in the future.

It is our firm belief that culture is the single most important thing we can focus on to drive business performance, and more importantly to transform the way we do business, to engender dignity for people, greater balance with nature, and a harmonious society. The indigenous people (of which we all belong) were those who lived in balance and harmony for eons of time, and they did this through a constant focus on culture. There is much we have to learn from the remaining indigenous cultures, principally that culture is the heart and soul of the people, and this holds true for every organization as well as society at large.

Please join us by taking the survey now (click here), lend us your thoughts, and contribute to a growing database of understanding.

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Tip of the Week

Define one aspect of your culture (either personal or organizational), just one small piece of it. Then ask the question, “If I was to deepen or strengthen this one cultural aspect, what would that look like?” Sit with this question for a few minutes without attempting to answer the question. Rather just hold the question in your mind and then let go of it and see what flies into your thoughts?