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Why is "Culture" important?

At a broad level, culture enables strategy execution. An enabling culture can help you achieve your ambitions, while a dysfunctional culture can create untold roadblocks. Many people think that discussing or doing anything substantial with culture (like a culture assessment, for example) is a luxury which only large corporations can afford. Or that they are already too busy with other pressing issues, and culture can come later. This can be a fatal mistake simply because whether you shape the culture or not, a default culture is in making all the time. And over time, culture, and therefore, the resultant behaviors harden, making them very difficult to change later on. For instance, a company wants to become more agile or responsive, and the culture could simply stands in the way. Or a company wants to become more innovative but nothing substantial comes out of all kinds of processes it implements. The list is endless.

Are you confronted with any of the following issues?
If yes, think about your culture seriously.

A sampling of typical problems

  • We have nicely drafted mission and values statement, displayed prominently. But often wonder if they are of any real value as far as day-to-day work is concerned?

  • Every year, we set aspirational goals and have a well-crafted strategy, but are disappointed with results. We don't know why?

  • We have a proud track record of success. But there is a lurking feeling that future challenges might be quite different, and with severe competition and constant disruption, we may lose ground. Some early signs are already visible. Wondering if the present culture can take us into the future?

  • Last couple of years, we are witnessing uneven performance. Board wants sustainable, high performance. How to catch that trajectory? Is culture a factor?

  • We are a multi-divisional company. Of late, we have been wondering how much of cultural autonomy should be given to these divisions and yet have a sense of oneness as a company?

  • We plan to undertake JVs/mergers/acquisitions. There is already enough evidence that many of these endeavors do not yield desired results. How should we work on the cultural front to make sure that the combined entity does not have antagonistic factions fighting for their point-of-view, putting all the effort and investment at risk?

  • We have identified that inadequate talent is a big issue. Why are we not able to attract the best in-spite of all kinds of incentives?

  • We plan to undertake digital transformation. And will be spending substantial resources. Is culture a key factor to ensure success? 

  • We want to become more innovative. There are innovation-processes we have implemented. But why are the results so elusive?

  • We are undergoing restructuring. There is already quite a bit of anxiety all around. Businesses, organization structure, roles--all can be worked upon. But do we need to "refresh" culture also?

  • We are a young company. We have heard about companies like Google, Amazon, and Netflix codifying their cultural values early on. How can we do that before it's too late?

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