I sat in a meeting last October, where quite simply put, there was a huge elephant in the room; an insolvent culture. The leader, who had previously pushed such topics, along with wellbeing, equality and care, under the carpet, had now decided that, in light of some insipid outcomes on all fronts, it was time to check a 'culture' box. One of his several puppets infamously quoted a famous quote, "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and again expecting different results". At the time I cringed; my previous three years of hard work, toil and often heartbreak; continually battling with ostracism and dealing with my own moral courage had gone into this philosophy. I preached change, "it's hard but we all have to do it eventually…" I announced, to which many had critically denounced it, saying "there's nothing wrong with the culture" or "it's not your place…". Things since this meeting last October, unfortunately, have spiralled, almost uncontrollably, to the depths of the lowest point the entire institute has been.
Shortly after that meeting, masking strategies were put in place, of course, I watched cynically, my better judgment and personal mantra disagreeing with wholeheartedly.
And since, now being the middle of the following year, giving ample time to assess the impact of that "meeting to end all meetings on culture"? Well, let's just say, in the words of the great Albert Einstein, "May we all bathe in the insanity in which we all created…"
A short and sweet one today, leaving a little food for thought.
Many words have connotations; positive and negative, but none are blurred as to which connotation sits best for the word culture more. I guess there's confusion around this as those who seek culture for a betterment and end up seeking an abrupt exit from a dire environment, filled with negativity.
Culture; something I feel I aimlessly sought, has many facets to uphold positive progression yet probably the most effective strategy to obtain belief in a system that later brings about endless supplies of euphoric affirmation is the establishment of routine.
Many who set out to establish great culture most probably have great intentions but those who seek without effect fall victim to instilling repetition. Negative repetition, based on the ideas of few, or God forbid, one will lend itself to one thing and one thing only, egotism. Sure, ideas and implementation must all come from one but when dealing with many and that one deals singlehandedly with all, the path to success starts to crack. So, if leading this journey, be strong, set routines, establish standards (and bloody high ones at that) and stick to them, for the sake of all. If your standard fits many, make them fit all. No exceptions.
Culture is about precedents. Good and bad, they form the basis of what is required to achieve one's goals, in all walks of life. When something great happens, that "wow, that was unexpected…" take the time to sit back and celebrate it. Spend time giving pats on the back and words of affirmation because before you know it, the time to hand the bitter pill of failure will come. This is certainly an easier one to swallow having seen the high commendations for what is expected. If the failure comes first, then don't hold back, make it a precedent, and stay strong. Instill the message we learn from mistakes and then it's about the response. Always follow up the response with everyone within the culture's inner sanctum. Have them see that making mistakes is part of learning and that has allowed even further progression, that the mistake entitled one monumental precedent so it will not occur, with anyone again. If it does, there's a precedent. People hide from setting precedents and this alone may derail your desire to establish a routine driven culture of success.
There is no one way to establish good cultures but without the people at the top, making tough yet necessary decisions, they do not occur. Without the input, buy-in and a sense of value below, the culture is doomed from the outset. As a natural leader, I set about creating goodness in every way possible but by far and away the most important thing I do, as quickly as possible, I set good habits. Good routines. Repetition is nice for the continuity of a collective but is it really the basis of good culture? Set up a routine and you move forward, set up repetition and, despite at times feeling as though you are moving forward, you hit a corner and head straight back around in the opposite direction.