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Culture Assessment…What is Your Culture Like?

Culture is the environment in which an organization operates, and just as the right environment is necessary for a plant to grow and prosper, the same is true for an organization. However, culture is difficult to measure due to the many factors that shape and develop an organizations culture, yet when we engage with an organization, we can quickly determine what type of culture they operate in. To recognize the various states of culture which can operate within an organization, there is an excellent Biblical parable found in Mark 4, which describes the four states of an organization using the analogy of seeds and soil. From this parable we can see the importance of culture cultivation and its positive or negative impact on an organization. In the parable of the soils, the same seeds are cast on four different soils, each with varying results. The first soil is a hard soil on which the seeds are cast, but the seeds are taken away before they ever take root. This soil we will call the contentious environment. The second soil is described as a rocky shallow soil in which the seeds are cast and produce some growth, but when the sun comes up it is destroyed because the root system is not well established. This soil we will call the complacent environment. The third type of soil is full of weeds and thorns in which the seed produce plants, but they are chocked out by the weeds and thorns. This soil we will call the chaos environment. The forth soil on which the seeds are cast is a prepared soil which has been well cultivated and produces an abundant harvest of 30, 60, 100 fold return. The forth type of soil we will call the congruent environment. From this simple parable, we can categorize the environment in which an organization operates. This is important to observe and realize so the necessary investments can be made to move us to the congruent environment which produces the exponential return. Let’s briefly explore these four environments.
  1. Contentious Culture – In a contentious environment, bad attitudes are reflected, there is an “us versus them” environment in which there is a harshness exhibited to fellow employees, customers, vendors, etc. When seeds of opportunity are cast in this environment, they rarely take root. There is a lack of unity and usually poor communications between leadership and employees.
  2. Complacent Culture – In the complacent environment the seeds take root, but the plant dies when hot sun or harsh conditions arise. In this environment, the team may have pleasant attitudes, but they are usually riding on past successes, a stale vision, lack is discipline, or poor leadership. It is usually an industry upset, poor economic conditions, or fresh leadership that can move the organization from its state of complacency.
  3. Chaos Culture – The culture of chaos can also be labeled as the fire fighting culture in which there is very little direction given, much activity, but little progress being made. There is little planning and all decisions are made on short notice and a new direction is then established. The plan is changed on a moment’s notice and most of the people on the team are confused as to where the team is headed, since it changes on a frequent basis.
  4. Congruent Culture – The congruent environment is the well prepared, cultivated soil in which the seeds are cast and produce a 30, 60, 100 fold return. This is the type of exponential growth most organizations seek and is reflective of the proper investments of culture cultivation within the organization. The congruent culture is one where the organizations identity is clearly defined, the direction and plan are well established, the leadership team is competent and engaged, and the employees are well equipped to accomplish the tasks assigned.
An organizations culture will reflect the alignment or misalignment between the organizations identity and the actual day-to-day operations. For example, if an organization promotes excellence and confidence through advertising and sales channels, but treats employees poorly and delivers a sub-standard product and/or service, then the culture will reflect this misalignment. In order for the culture to reflect a healthy environment, the organizational identity must be clearly defined, a strategic plan implemented, directed by an effective leadership team, and supported by systems and standards which enable the employees to deliver the level of excellence promised to the customer. To learn more about how to cultivate a culture for success, contact Stravicom Global at, www.StravicomGlobal.com.