During our second day in Singapore, our team discussed how culture is created.
Simply put, culture is an outcome of our processes, both formal and informal. This is in line with the popular definition of culture: “How things are really done around here.” This common definition reminds us that our written policies (formal processes) will always lose to what people actually do, to what is condoned (informal processes).
The idea that culture is an outcome of our processes is empowering. It means that we can change our culture as easily as we can change our processes. When people say that it is difficult to change a culture, what they means is that it is difficult to change how they do things, to change their long-established processes and habits. And by difficult, they often mean that they don’t have the courage or the will to change how things are.
The recipe to change a culture is simple: identify the elements of your culture that you don’t like, link them to a specific formal or informal process, change that process, and hold your ground. It will take time for your organization to believe that you truly want the change you are seeking.
Courage, hard work, and patience. That’s what we need to change a culture.