Two Funerals and a Culture

Cultural Diversity WEB SMLThe funerals of Aretha Franklin and John McCain demonstrate a vivid contrast in cultures, and cultural ceremonies. These two celebrations of life couldn’t be more different. One had lively renditions of vocals, the other more somber musical tributes. At one, people wore highly expressive outfits. At the other, attendees displayed more toned-down and traditional attire. Both had moments of humor, applause, and solemnity. One was like Google on steroids, the other like IBM. Which of these celebrations is most like your organizational culture and why does culture matter?

Cultural Memories MatterCultural Icon WEB SML INT

Organizational cultures can be just as different as well as the ceremonies they implement to “celebrate” events. The fact that cultures are different or even that organizations celebrate events differently is not the issue. Rather, the question that begs asking is, “Is our culture effective at meeting our strategic goals?”  Therefore, culture matters. The two very different funerals worked because they honored their respective “heroes” in a manner befitting their cultural background and, in the ways, the departed wanted to be remembered. What makes your company cultural memorable and why does it matter?

Different leadership styles determine the culture of an organization. Recently I visited an organization where the CEO saw the need for a cultural change. The previous CEO led with a dependent style of leadership. This style of leadership leads to a culture or mindset based in conformance or tradition. Some of you know this as “command and control” leadership.

Change is a process and typically the next step in such a change is an independent culture or a culture or mindset based in heroic individual achievement. The goal is to achieve change that to a more interdependent style or a culture or mindset based in the collaboration of otherwise independent leaders and groups. The memories of the previous culture that many years, may take a long time to change. Such a change will become even more difficult if there was harsh reprimand when people took initiative. Cultural memories matter.

Culture and the Strategic Plan

In business, if you’re not growing in some capacity, money, clients, or products, you are dying. If people greet visitors and customers in an unfriendly manner and are not helpful, how many new customers do you think you will attract? When there is no fun at work, creativity suffers and the innovative products you might desire will never be created. Building the culture, you need to grow your business takes time to build; and every leader at every level, must demonstrate the culture you desire time and time again.

The two funerals were vastly different. However, every person in attendance at each of the celebrations walked the walk of the culture of the celebration. Despite minor glitches, both iconic events were a success in providing just the right farewell to two people who are not likely to be forgotten – ever – and neither will the culture they both loved and that every attendee at each event wrapped themselves in body and soul.

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Graphic Credit: Big

Hall, M. (2015, April). How to Shape Your Company Culture to Support our Organizational Goals. Chief Executive
Soloman, M. (2014, September). A Step-by-Step Path For Corporate Culture Change. Forbes

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