Whatcha See Is Whatcha Get

Culture does not change because we desire to change it. Culture changes when the organization is transformed – the culture reflects the realities of people working together every day – Frances Hesselbein

As the Dramatics once said, “You know some people, Are made of lies, To bring you down, And shame your name.*

I’ve worked in places like that.  They have virutous slogans on the wall, and preach about their “culture,” but only rarely does what they say match with what you see.

Managers try, often by spreading little slogans around the station.  But a quote hanging on the wall is more of an aspiration, not a core value.  We can aspire to have a strong corporate culture like Zappos or Chick-Fil-A, but still act like your values are, “Beatings will continue until morale improves.”  What you do is more important that what you say.  In fact many organizations lose credibility on the culture front because they aren’t consistent with what they do and what they say,  It works against them.  People begin to distrust anything management says, and accept the real culture is what they see happening, not what management says.  Soon, they’re not paying any attention to what management says.

Whatcha See is Whatcha Get

So, who really cares?  Well, if you look at the best performing organizations around the country, there’s a direct parallel between a strong, well-understood culture and success.  Conversely, those with cultures and realities that don’t match, as the least successful.  More personally, people will stop believing what you say, and accept what you do as the true culture.

And you may not like that!


* The Dramatics, 1972