You Can’t Improve Your Culture Until You See the Culture Patterns
As I said in my previous post, the work of culture is fundamentally about answering the what, why, and how questions. As you start to answer the “what” question (what is your culture?) you will inevitably get into your culture patterns.
A culture pattern is simply the way an organization approaches one of the 8 core elements of culture: agility, collaboration, digital, growth, inclusion, innovation, solutions, and transparency. Patterns typically show up as a contradiction or a gap, where two parts of the cultural element are treated differently inside the culture.
Most organizations don’t see their culture patterns. They like to think of their culture in simpler terms: we value collaboration, or we value transparency. What our research has revealed, however, is that it’s rarely that simple. When it comes to transparency, for instance, the dominant culture pattern is one we call “reactive transparency.” The culture values sharing information, so people will happily share things when asked (reactive), but there is not as much emphasis on creating systems and processes that ensure information is shared even before people have to ask (proactive).
That pattern can have a big impact on the quality of decision making in the organization. When you have to wait for the right information, or you choose to make decisions without all the information you need, you will consistently make bad decisions. If that’s happening, then you need to change your culture patterns, so you might invest in a better intranet for information sharing, or perhaps change the way you do team meetings and organizational dashboards.
Until you see the pattern, you won’t come up with the right action plan for change. Our culture assessment is a perfect way to see the patterns with all their nuanced detail.
Photo by Dan-Cristian Pădureț