In today’s world, ‘culture’ has become a word synonymous with high-performing companies. At OpenBlend, we have the privilege of being able to open the door to an array of differing cultures, and are able to gain insight into the challenges that they face. Our clients all have one common theme: they are people centric, and so an opportunity to come together and discuss company culture, and challenge our thinking, was a welcome opportunity.
Our CEO & Founder, Anna Rasmussen, started the morning with this simple definition of ‘culture’:
“The ideas, customs, and social behaviour of a group of particular people or society.”
Schools, friends, countries, families… they all have their own culture. What sets company culture apart, is often it’s transient nature. Whilst country or family are a longer term associations, companies are more momentary in our lives. And so if the culture does not suit us we move on, making the challenges for companies to retain and engage talent all the more vital.
Anna shared her view of the cultural iceberg. Above water we saw all the initiatives that companies implement in an attempt to create their perfect culture: pool tables, free food, gym memberships, and technical solutions (such as OpenBlend!). All valuable but these can be meaningless unless you are aware of what is below the surface; the absolute necessity of C-suite buy-in and action in order to really make the changes.
We next heard from Jo Olsen and how together with her team at M&C Saatchi Sport and Entertainment they’ve achieved a spot on Campaign’s Top 25 Places To Work. Talking to staff, focusing on high performance, staying connected, thinking of the end-to-end employee experience, and remembering that culture is never done. Scoring 100 in the ‘Confidence of leadership’ and ‘Organisational communication’ part of the Best Places To Work survey demonstrated that buy-in throughout the organisation to support initiatives such as OpenBlend had paid dividends.
Finally, coach Alex Mecklenburg made us really challenge our thinking on what culture is and how we approach it. To quote Peter Ducker, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.”. Or in Alex Mecklenburg’s words, “Intent eats strategy for breakfast.” Do our organisations radiate intent? Are we aligned on the intended outcomes of our actions? Does everyone understand our organisational intent… especially in difficult moments of trade-offs? No one has all the answers, but as businesses we need to be asking us these questions.
There is a saying that ‘Culture happens when nobody is looking,’ but as organisations we must talk, challenge, and act in order to shape the customs and social behaviours of our particular people.