Your organization is a living being

Your culture runs the show

In an organization, you can see people are cells, teams as organs, departments as systems. And if you push the metaphor, each of them have their own ways of working and have their own mission, and all of them also all work towards a shared goal, which is to keep the body alive. Interaction between cells, organs and systems is constant. They impact each other.

You can then see culture as the operating system that sends orders to the body. It has only one function: keeping the body alive. So it will do everything it can to fulfill this mission. In the organization, this means that it will not pay much attention to what you say, or only to spot potential inconsistencies between what you say and what it sees. Those insights will become more signals that it needs to adapt its behaviour (or not). The key for your culture is to capture quickly what needs to be done in order to survive, so it can send the right signal to the body parts of your organization. It is very pragmatic and works at huge speed (much faster than the brain and its decision functions, i.e. top management).

Knowing this, it is no surprise that culture is the n°1 predictor of performance in organizations (if you still need convincing on this, you can read the latest from the Institute of Corporate productivity – i4cp – on key facts about how culture impacts your organization).

How can you influence your culture ?

As management, you will never be fast enough to react faster than your culture. Culture will beat management every single time it gets challenged. It has super sensitive antennas all over the organization. It captures instantly everything everywhere. So if you want to shape it, you’d better learn how it works, and send it the signals it needs to hear and see.

You can proactively engineer and send signals that it will read, understand and take into account to decide if it needs to adapt. You will proceed by small steps, slowing changing the direction your culture is taking. Culture is a comet. You can’t control its destination (is there one?), but you can impact its trajectory. This is the whole point of getting organized: impact the trajectory of your culture. For more, read our article about culture orchestration or on levers to act upon as your next step.

We at humanize can help you get organized to influence and eventually shape your culture. Click here to contact us.

For more on the organization as a living being, read « The living organization », by Norman Wolfe.

For more on how our brain functions, read « The Chimp paradox », by Steve Peters.

For more on culture as a living organism, read « Under the hood », by Stan Slap.