I have not talked about culture in quite some time. It used to be one of the most interesting subjects to me, in some ways it still is, but being trapped in the corporate machine for what it seems like an eternity really put culture in the back seat. Recently the whole topic has been at the very front and center of my life. A lot has changed in my life in the past couple of years and even though it has nothing to do with identity, I have become very aware of how important culture is to me. Not just my culture, but just culture in general. I read this article () about business today but it resonated with me far beyond that, in particular this part.
Why is culture so important to a business? Here is a simple way to frame it. The stronger the culture, the less corporate process a company needs. When the culture is strong, you can trust everyone to do the right thing. People can be independent and autonomous. They can be entrepreneurial. And if we have a company that is entrepreneurial in spirit, we will be able to take our next “(wo)man on the moon” leap. Ever notice how families or tribes don’t require much process? That is because there is such a strong trust and culture that it supersedes any process. In organizations (or even in a society) where culture is weak, you need an abundance of heavy, precise rules and processes.
The topic of culture, not framed in this context or even by this word has been discussed by my group of friends a lot recently. I am very close to my family, in particular to my Mom and sister, we talk often, they are aware of what steps I am taking in life. I often bounce ideas off them just to get their reaction. That is part of my culture. They don’t make decisions for me, in fact I have often gone the complete opposite way of what they think I should do, however it is a great part of how I live my life. We did not need any process created, it just grew from mutual trust and family. When I visit them or they visit me, there is not a ton of preparation or discussion about it; we all trust each other to take care of the details. Not all families are like this, not all cultures are like this either.
America struggles to find an identity at times and with it its culture. I have talked about this before, but the part that I feel is lacking is trust. When you don’t even trust your own family and friends it is pretty hard to have interactions with them. Tons of protocol and process has to be build around something that should be natural and organic in the interactions you have with them. The more I become familiar with people here in the US I am amazed by the structures that have to be built in relationships and the lack of fluidity in interactions. Nobody shows up at your house unannounced just to “visit” probably being the best example.
I like being spontaneous, picking up the phone and saying hey you want to catch a movie or dinner tonight? That can send some people into almost an anxiety attack because they are used to planning things not just days but weeks in advance. So what do you think, does your family or group of friends have a culture that makes interactions easier? or are there tons of protocols and rules that you follow on your interactions with them?