What is culture? Does culture determine success?

A quick heads up, if you feel this post is unusual, you’re right! It was an assignment for my Sports General Management class but I felt it had aspects which a lot of entrepreneurs and organizations could mull over. It might not be a lot, but I’m sure you’ll get the idea. So, here it goes.

“ Culture is the habit of being pleased with the best and knowing why” — Henry van Dyke

Winners focus, not on winning championships and medals, but on the physical and mental process of building a solid foundation through values and culture that will fundamentally create peak performance on a consistent basis, empowering them to be in the best possible position they can be, and as a byproduct, challenge and win championships. Culture exists in every organization, some might acknowledge it and abide by it, while others lose track of it. I believe culture is defined as simply as ‘… the way things around here work’ and ‘how we believe in doing things’.

Culture creates oneness, when a team collectively guns for a common goal, you will see lesser conflicts and turnovers in the long haul, players wanting to be and fight together for one another, retain talented stars, and builds by far the most undervalued virtue in today’s sporting world, loyalty. La Masia, Barcelona’s Youth Academy is one of the finest testimonies to the importance of culture and its impact in long term success of an organization. The former technical director of La Masia attributes the success of the academy to its philosophy, “It is about creating one philosophy, one mentality, from the bottom of the club to the top”. It’s no surprise that the majority players of the treble winning teams of Barcelona and Bayern Munich evolved through youth ranks, which educated them about the club’s culture and how they needed to conducted themselves accordingly. Culture has certainly become one of the pivotal USPs of modern sports teams.

‘Victoria Concordia Crescit’ or ‘Victory grows through unity and harmony’ is ingrained in the heritage of The Arsenal FC for a little less than three-quarters of a century. The mission statement (a timeless pertinence) quite evidently mirrors the rich and glorious history associated with the club and the importance of traditional values in day-to-day business of the club. It is quite conspicuous that the culture is one of the reasons why the club has never been relegated from the top most tier of English football. One of the reasons I became an Arsenal fan, beside their beautiful style of football, was the dedication above all else, to the belief that the manner of victory and of conductance is above all the most important virtue toward which the club strives. This sentiment resonates well with millions of Arsenal fans worldwide whose loyalty is the result of the credence. Both, on and off the field, I believe that the mission statement has steered the club to financial and domestic success. When you have culture aligned with the style of work/play, there is bound to be an impact that is unique and significant of your team, defining the team’s competitive advantage. Arsenal FC’s mission statement is an example for all organizations, I’m not guaranteeing success, but the philosophy has great depth to it.

In my closing comments, let me cite an observation from one of the greatest brands ever created, Apple. Apple’s fall and rise to success through the late 80s and 90s is a phenomenal example on the importance of a cultural identity to an organization. Bringing Steve Jobs back, the estranged co-founder and mastermind behind the early success of Apple, single handedly brought back the philosophy and culture that Apple had been missing as an organization. What followed is history.

I believe that culture when aligned with work ethics or when developed in your people, can create a deadly domino effect and organizational success. As a former entrepreneur myself, building a culture resonated with organizational harmony, reduced conflicts, defined lines of integrity and critically paved the path to understanding how we, as a brand, liked to carry about with our business and how we felt our customers perceived us and how we wanted them to feel when engaging with us. Lastly, at the core to a company’s success is how they see themselves from within and real question is, how many do that?

If your company has a mission statement or a unique culture, share the same by commenting below.

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