Is culture overrated?
Some organisations place stock in their unique culture. Some even state their people are more important than their customers.
But if we look at the manner in which cultures evolve.
In the early days of the company the founders determined culture simply by working together. A positive dynamic led to growth and a negative one led to the company never leaving the runway.
With a successful take-off the successful traits of the founders were codified into the talent management processes. As the organisation became international the national traits of the founders were imposed on staff from other nations. This dissonance can be observed in for example American companies with Japanese subsidiaries.
But markets change too and so the cultural DNA of the founders not only no longer uniformly fits across national barriers it is no longer fit for market purpose. Some would believe that the trick to steering the culture is simply to pull the personal KPI levers and lo the new behaviours are set in motion.
But if you take a look at the high performance end of the market, for example professional team sports, the notion of culture is fluid. A new manager or a new superstar sign up will set in motion a whole new cultural chapter. Such events are triggered by the reality that the old is no longer fit for purpose and rather than nostalgically preserve the culture, it is abandoned like a snake’s skin.
As we enter the digital economy, it will be the superstar players and managers that will determine whether your organisation has a bright future not a ‘past its sell by date’ set of tacit behaviour rules.