Culture is a virtue – a minimal set of things that every individual in the system exhibits on a daily basis. /Representative image |
Systems like beehives, ant colonies and the human brain are considered some of the most complicated structures in the universe. What these biological systems have in common is that they do not have a single intelligence center. The fact is, the most cooperative, intelligent, and admirable biological systems in the universe were created by distributed intelligence. This is remarkable because an individual must operate under a minimal set of rules in a distributed intelligence system. The constant adherence of all individuals to this set of rules is what gives rise to such gigantic and complicated systems. These minimum rules are the CULTURE of a system.
Culture is not the value of the company. Culture is not the vision or the mission of the company. Instead, culture is a virtue – a minimal set of things that every individual in the system exhibits on a daily basis.
According to the main labor organization – JOLTS – more than 4.5 million employees leave their jobs every month in the United States alone. Commonly cited reasons for leaving a job, as listed on exit forms, are things like
● Looking for a higher salary
● Need more challenge
● Feeling uninspired
● Wanting to feel valued/Seeking more recognition
● Seeking a better management relationship
● Search for job growth and career advancement
● Need more comments or structure
● Need for a better work-life balance
When an independent team of social scientists at Harvard analyzed the most frequently cited reasons why people quit their jobs, they realized that all causes stem from a standard underlying mechanics.
Most organizations have a very complicated operational structure for an individual to grasp. After all, humans evolved to survive in the savannah, not the corporate jungle. This revealed that the corporate culture is riddled with layers of bureaucracy. As a result, we talk too much about many things and too few ideas about how to act on a daily basis.
Even in cultures where the action points are clear, there is a clear gap between management buy-in to those action points. This gives rise to subconscious discomfort that a person finds very difficult to articulate. The Harvard team found that people’s inability to articulate these complicated thoughts and emotions led them to choose a typical reason to quit smoking that is easier to convey.
Another analysis by Daniel Coyle, who later articulated his learning in the book “The Culture Code”, discovered something similar. High performers do not form high performers. The mechanics of the winning culture are much simpler and therefore more difficult to cultivate.
There are 5 essential elements to creating a winning culture.
1. A clear set of virtues – a small set of values that are ACTUALIZED daily.
2. Psychological safety – removing fear from daily interactions.
3. Establish the purpose – this does not mean imposing the so-called company vision on employees. It involves visualizing what the result of their work is.
4. Focus on people – Typical companies have a top-down approach. The focus needs to be reversed and start at the individual level.
5. Not maximizing efficiency and creativity together
Building a winning culture consists of establishing very simple rules that each individual can understand and respect. These rules (virtues) may vary from one organization to another. However, the non-negotiable adherence to these virtues by individuals in a system gives rise to powerful structures that even a single node of intelligence cannot comprehend.
(Aanan Khurma, CEO and co-founder of Wellversed)
(To receive our daily E-paper on WhatsApp, please Click here. To receive it on Telegram, please Click here. We allow the PDF of the document to be shared on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.)