It’s 5:30am and I’ve spent the last 1/2 hour trying to craft an email to address another escalation to the bank President. In true fashion, a simple misunderstanding has been escalated to the rest of the Sr. Leadership team to call out the affront. This, however, is not an isolated occurrence. I walk into work every day not knowing if the direction my team is currently on is the direction that my team will continue on. Culture obliterates strategy and leaves your organization helpless. This is the reality of a broken culture.
So what’s the truth around culture and why is it important. I struggled with this concept for a long time as I thought the world was black and white, right and wrong, optimized or laggard. That couldn’t have been more wrong. As Nilofer Merchant puts it: “Culture’s all that invisible stuff that glues organizations together… It includes things like norms of purpose, values, approach — the stuff that’s hard to codify, hard to evaluate, and certainly hard to measure and therefore manage.” The issue is like a ghost; you can feel it but it doesn’t really seem real. Bad culture is easy to complain about to your co-workers, but difficult to use as an explanation of poor product performance. The rub is that culture, when broken, inhibits everyone from being productive, accomplishing goals, and most importantly, stiffing innovation. To beat a dead horse, bad culture kills trust and trust is imperative to teams working together.