It seems that lately everyone has discovered culture. For me throughout the years I have recognized that culture is the difference maker: you have good cultures that nurture and support excellence and you have toxic cultures that breed mediocrity and failure.
What is culture? It is intangible, it is the little things that make a difference. It is feeling of a unity, of commitment to a cause. Sometimes you can feel it and not see it. I know for sure it is not posters on the wall with inspirational saying, nor is t-shirts with catchy phrases, it is a feeling, a sense of purpose and alignment. It is seemingly unimportant actions like the Heisman trophy winner helping Jim Radcliffe clean up trash on the team bus. It is everyone taking ownership and responsibility for their actions so that everyone gets better together. It is actions more than words.
Can you change culture? Sure, absolutely you can. It takes effort, constant vigilance to insure alignment with core values and observance of the actions that support those core values.
Can good culture go bad? Yes, it sure can, just look at University of Oregon football when they lost their way and stopped taking care of the little things.
Is culture important? Absolutely it is important if you want to achieve any level of sustained excellence, that is why I call the big C, without a sound culture there is no substance. Training becomes a grind, rules become unenforceable, bad behavior becomes the norm. Look around you.
What is your team or organizations culture? Is it good or bad? If you are energized and look forward to the day I would say then you probably have the start of a good culture. You must work at building and sustaining the culture every moment of every day. Little things matter. One second late for a meeting is late – not acceptable. Not complimenting a teammate is not acceptable. Acknowledge the good and correct the bad. Once a great culture is achieved it takes more work and focus to sustain it. You can never relax and think you have it. It takes a sense of constant tension to maintain it. Great cultures are not always top down, they are led from within, everyone is all in and together with a unity of purpose.