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Feb 7th, 2013 Share: Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share on LinkedIn

The fish stinks from the head down

We talked about company culture before — now the question is: How do you create or, probably even harder, change it?

Culture is a peculiar thing. You can’t prescribe it. If you do, you end up with the cringeworthy stuff you hear from your friends at Big Company Corp. And yet, if you don’t approach the topic with some form of structure, you end up with a clusterfuck of personal opinions on what your culture is and is not. Sometimes that works, often it doesn’t and it scales terribly.

What to do? First you need to understand that the body does what the head says (or in less positive terms: The fish usually stinks from the head down). The leadership of your organization must publicly live and embody your values and culture. How do you expect the children to behave when Mommy & Poppy are not leading by example?

Yet this is not enough. You need to make sure that your culture is reflected in anything and everything you do. You need to call people out when they do things which are counter your culture — and you need to explain to them why their particular action was not right in the context of your culture.

And then you need repetition. Especially when you think that people “get it”. Culture is something which needs constant repetition and refreshing. And understand that culture will shift left and right a bit over time. Your values should stay stable — culture is influenced by so many external factors that it won’t. Allow for this whilst staying true to yourself.

Trust me — all this is worth it. It’s time and energy well spent as it will make your company better, more resilient and ultimately more successful. And above all — it will make it so much more fun.

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