Culture is as Culture Does

Forrest Gump - BlogIt is perhaps one of the most notable movie quotes of all time. It is also a lesson that Forrest Gump was taught early on, and never forgot. Stupid is as Stupid does.

The meaning of this is straight forward; stupidity is based more on your actions than on how you speak, and it is a direct result of what you do. Similarly, organizational culture is based more on the actions of employees than on the words that you speak, and it is definitely a direct result of what you do.

Most organizations have created a set of ‘core values’; guiding principles that should define the organizations identity – the principles, beliefs or philosophy. Examples of core values we may be familiar with are Integrity, Innovation or Passion. It is important to define these as an organization, but it does not necessarily guarantee that the culture of the organization will align to these core values. Identifying what you want is much easier than actually accomplishing it. Culture is more about our actions or behaviours than it is about words on a poster in the lunchroom or a plaque in the reception area. It is the collective way of behaving that determines the culture, it is what we do. So how do we achieve the culture that we so desire?

As leaders or influencers within an organization, we would do well to spend our time understanding how people need to behave and ensure we have provided them with the proper skills and environment to enact these behaviours. Do the people in your organization understand what they must do in order to demonstrate integrity? How about the leaders in your organization, have they provided the environment for people to successfully develop a passion for what they do?

If you do not take the time to clearly define how people need to behave in a way that aligns with your core values, or fail to provide the environment for people to achieve them, you may end up with a culture like a box of chocolates…you never know what you’re going to get.

About Trent MacLeod

A certified trainer and lean practitioner, Trent has over 15 years of experience in operations management, organizational design, strategic planning, and solution implementation. Trent has a collaborative and communicative management style and focuses on facilitating, mentoring, and coaching to deliver results. His focus on continuous improvements within a holistic structure has resulted in effective, sustainable, and financial improvements. His experience spans various industries including hospitality, retail, manufacturing, and public services. Trent is a certified trainer of VitalSmarts training modules, including Influencer, Crucial Conversations and Crucial Accountability.


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