Getting the culture right in an organisation

CLIMATE CHANGE / Winds and Waves / December 2015

Plans drawn up by the board of the Institute of Cultural Affairs International at a meeting in Tanzania this year.

Three years ago, I had to make a decision. Should I become part of the global ICA organisation by opening an ICA branch in Ukraine? The first thing I did was to look up the definition of the word “culture”. I believe the success of an organisation depends on grasping its brand name, fundamental nature and spirit. This would be one of my main responsibilities to become an integral part of the organisation.

The word “culture” has many definitions, which is good on one hand. It provides an opportunity for almost the entire population of our country and the world to be engaged in the mission of the organisation, which enables us to stay resilient and responsive. On the other hand, this diversity brings contradictions and complexity to the participants in the development process of the organisation.

If culture is the sum of a complex network of human achievements, this means that any person who is part of ICA is also part of all human achievements. We represent the diversity inside human culture, which gets its growth only through the struggle of the unity of opposites. This growth can be a source of conflict within a person, and their environment. In our case this is the local organisations, their external environment, and the global organisation that we all represent.

Modern Development of the Organisation

What is modern development of the organization?

It is the identification, development and recognition of each other’s talents. It is no secret that in focusing on other people’s happiness, a person and the organisation can acquire their own happiness.

It is trust in the process in which it resides. The modern process of constant change, one which we can call acquiring perfection. The changes begin in the present, and they can’t be just dreams, there must be actions connected to these dreams.

It is the belief in people, encouraging their personal fulfillment by belonging to a mission that has higher goals than any single person. The only effective way we can motivate people to action is by our own example of fulfilling our own mission, our purpose in life.

It is a creation of a spirit of unity through the struggle of opposites and building close trusting relationships with each other. This is a complex and multidimensional process that stimulates us to find balance and renunciation of our own weaknesses, which are the core of the contradictions and conflicts.

It is an equality and cooperation with other organisations, as well as the creation of shared values. A global organisation cannot exist by itself, because it does not have its own resources to meet the needs of all living in the world, including its own needs. Only in mutual actions in pursuit of unity and understanding of the importance of the contribution of each organisation and individual identity, we can talk about the true fulfillment of its mission.

It is developing common good in equal partnership, not competing for the right to use “limited” financial resources. A Big River consists of small drops which provide an opportunity to develop an ecosystem both inside and outside.

It is taking responsibility to create an atmosphere within the organisation, which helps people to fulfill their own mission. The key that opens the door to sustainable development of the organisation is in people and their simple everyday actions in their hearts and minds that helps to fill in their wallets. Focusing on filling your wallet is the road to destruction, not creation. The task of management of the organisation is to learn how to fill the heart, the mind and the wallet.

Individually and collectively we are responsible for those who become part of our organisation, and therefore part of each of us. It is possible that if you just change your thoughts within yourself, the organisation will begin to have positive changes.

We are responsible for those organisations that will come after us because they are a reflection of all of us, regardless whether we like it or not. Can a member of a global organisation be neutral? I don’t think they can, even if they are a master of ToP facilitation.

Each of us reacts to different events in different ways. As a rule this reaction is an expression of our emotions. Emotion can be hidden or open; it is always there. People translate these emotions into feelings and behaviours. We have the opportunity to develop empathy for the source of their deep feelings instead of immediately reacting.

Deep understanding is like a perpetual motion wheel, within all healthy processes in the modern development of an organisation and expression of its own culture.

Culture is the main difference between one organisation from another. Each organisation has its own unique culture. This is a complex network of our personal achievements in the productivity, civic and spiritual sense; which impacts the lives of other people.

And let us remember that all that we do in our lives, we do it through people.

A look into the future

The mission of the organisation engages people in their values, but this is not enough to implement it. The mission is to bring forth goals that are different from those of its tasks. The success of the dynamic development of the organisation depends on the purpose of our skills in gathering everyone to a common goal and help it to become a reality.

The successful implementation of the goals affects our own system of values ​​and habits. And only our awareness of the service of a common goal has the ability to change us in the right direction. The modern world cannot be expected to just wait for a leader, who will come to teach and give us the motivation to develop. We must rise to the responsibility as leaders to create a common vision and understanding of its value and its joint adoption and implementation.

By Svetlana Salamatova

This article was translated by Anna Trofymenko,, Ukraine, and edited by Mark Warren,, president of consulting company Tesla2, USA. Svetlana Salamatova,, is the founder of ICA Ukraine and vice-president of ICA Europe and Middle East and North Africa region.