What is “culture” in an organization and why is it important?

Visualizing what kind of future we want and letting this goal guide our present actions. This is a powerful tool to live and act with purpose,  and also to make things happen.

I really enjoy reading the work by people that have the skill to summarise what we already know on a subject while providing a convincing idea of what a -better- future could look like.

This is the case of the book I have been reading, Fréderic Laloux’s “Reinventing organizations“. I would like to share with you Laloux’s definition of a “culture”  because I think that it is an important aspect of how an organization works and how it reproduces or changes the competitive and inhumane ways of traditional organizations.

 

[C]ulture is how things get done, without people having to think about it. It’s something in the air that visitors pick up on when they walk the hallways of an organization. Often we can’t pinpoint anything in particular, and yet everything is revealing to some extent―for example, how offices are decorated, what people talk about at the water cooler, the jokes they make, how people with big and small jobs interact, how people deal with good and bad news.

 

Coworkers chatting
What do people talk about when they bump into each other? Photo by Alexis Brown on Unsplash

And he continues:

 

Take an organization where people share the assumption that information must be communicated freely. Compare it to another where people believe that information is power and should be shared only on a need-to-know basis. Obviously the two organizations won’t achieve the same outcomes. Or picture an organization where it’s accepted practice to blame others and complain behind their backs. Compare it to another with the shared norm that people own their accountabilities and work out differences one-on-one. It’s easy to guess which of the two provides a more productive and pleasant workplace.

(p. 242-243)

 

He compares what he calls an “orange” with a “pluralistic-green” approach in the creation of organizational cultures. He makes the point that green approaches are more successful by acknowledging the importance of culture in making not only organizations more effective in their results, but also in making the people working there happier.

I found this book thanks to Valérie Pietri’s and I am glad she talked to me about it. Valérie is one of the founders and managers of A poc a poc, a coworking space located in Barcelona that opened in 2013. She is imagining the future of coworking spaces along with her two colleagues Sébastien Détroyat and Fabien Francheschini with a new adventure I will be telling you about soon.

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