Summer of Culture – The Beginning

This is the first part of a blog post series about company culture. I’m planning to write 5 posts in the upcoming 2 months about certain aspects of creating a great culture.


What is company culture?

I guess this is the hardest thing to explain, so why not ask Wikipedia about it?

“Culture includes the organization values, visions, norms, working language, systems, symbols, beliefs, and habits.”

Wikipedia – Company Culture

So I ask again: What is company culture? It seems to be very fluffy, but we all know when the culture of the organization is broken, when people have no connection to each other or to the values of the company. People get frustrated, demotivated and tend to do business as usual and the good employees are looking for another job. When people work in a great culture they’re motivated, have the freedom to change their roles, try out new stuff and are mostly very productive. So the benefits are obvious: Why are companies creating frustrating hierarchies, practicing micromanagement and stop employees to be creative? Let’s compare old working cultures with modern ones:

Culture from the past

640px-F._Taylor_1856-1915In the beginning of the last century Frederick Winslow Taylor introduced Scientific Management also known as Taylorism. The goal was to make the workers efficient and mass production predictable. Workers wasn’t supposed to think. They should do their work like machines. The managers were responsible for the thinking part: They managed the workers, planned how much the factory can produce and optimized that system. Perfect for that time… But we still see this behavior in companies nowadays where most of the predictable work has been automated, but some managers/organizations still want to manage every step of the employees.

Company tend to fall into Taylorism because they think that planning everything and having processes for everything makes their business still predictable. But it isn’t a very flexible and agile way of working in the world of lean startups & fast changing requirements.

Modern Culture

teamNew technology and prosperity in western countries requires a rethinking of how to motivate employees and make them feel comfortable in modern organizations to react faster. People nowadays want to work for a purpose instead of just work to survive. In the past we went to work at 8am and went home at 5pm, this has changed. We can work whenever we want, we have emails, laptops, smart phones, tablets. We can write emails before the breakfast at home or restart the production server from the pub at 8pm (watch your beer consume before doing that). Especially the IT-sector have started with changing its corporate culture so work fits more into our modern lifestyle where we look more after how to integrate work into our life instead of balance between life and work. It shifts also the focus away from ‘how many hours we work’ to ‘what did we achieve’.

Modern culture is not about just having free food, table tennis & after work drinking sessions. I don’t say that free food doesn’t help to attract employees and companies shouldn’t do it, but these things doesn’t help if your competitor just have kicked you out of the market with a new and better product. It’s the passion, the purpose and the respect that helps you build the next killer product. Culture is about people.

Summer of Culture

I want to show over the next 2 month how teams can benefit from a great culture, making them more productive, loyal and having more fun at work. I will cover topics how to break down culture from the whole organization to small teams, how to spread culture, how to hire for cultural fit (but also for a diverse culture), how to integrate innovation into the culture and how values can give culture stability and direction. Stay tuned!

If you have a great culture story (or also a bad example) I would love to post them under the Summer of Culture theme. Just contact me and we figure it out!

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