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Culture vs Values – Exercise | Deliberate Practice

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From the Post: 1 Reason You Need to Stop Worrying About Culture

Build your company’s culture on the foundation of your values. This also works with your team. If you develop a set of values for your team you can create the team culture you are looking for. See the post: Respect = Trust, or Trust = Respect, or What? for an exercise on how to identify values for your team.

During a learning session with leaders, they were struggling with the concept of values vs. culture and which is better to focus on. They weren’t sure how focusing on the values could affect the culture because there were too many people in the organization. I sent them on a break and told them when they got back I would have an answer for them.

During the break, I found a copy of their values, put it up on the screen, and closed the door to the meeting room. I met everyone in the hallway and told them I was going to open the door, they could not go in, and I wanted them to answer a question. 

I had them stand outside the door and look in the room, I asked them to describe the culture in the room. They looked at me and said that there was no culture in the room. Really? Look again and tell me what you see. One person finally said I see our values up on the screen. I didn’t say anything and just stared at them. That person says, so, the culture in the room is the values? 

I pointed to three of the leaders and told them to go stand in the middle of the room. I asked them again to describe the culture in the room. They said well the culture has changed because you added three people. I asked, did the culture change? Or was it enhanced by the three people? I sent five more people in and asked the same question, and now they just stared at me. I told everyone to go back into the room and I wanted someone to tell me about the culture in the room. 

Finally, someone spoke up and said, the values are the same and the culture is similar but different. We enriched it by infusing our experiences, ideas, opinions, and thoughts. I asked, did any of you lose your individuality within the culture? Someone said, no, we made it more diverse and inclusive at the same time while keeping true to our values. 

If you want to test your culture and values or find out how people see it, try this exercise and have a dialogue about it. The point is if you have clear and concise values and your expectation of your people is to live the values, then the culture can manifest itself in a way where everyone can live the values without losing their individuality. You want a culture of respect, what do your organizational values have to say about that? 

Don’t wait for tomorrow, tomorrow never comes. What you have is today and this is the best time to begin anything.

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