The Defense Secretary said, “The root cause has been a lack of sustained focus, attention, and resources resulting in a pervasive sense that a career in the nuclear enterprise offers too few opportunities…"
As I reflected on these comments and my experiences on 200+ consulting projects, several organizational culture truisms were reinforced:
- Either you manage organization culture or it manages you
- When culture is taken for granted:
- Behavior is ignored or neglected
- People forget to tell you things matter
- There is usually increased:
- Waste of human capability
- Compromise on values-based behavior
- Slippage of critical behavior standards
- Regression to blame/shame in accountability
- Declining and/or poor culture drives declining or poor performance
In addition, research conducted by Bain & Company concluded that “worldwide business leaders identified corporate culture as important as corporate strategy for business success.” Harvard Business School professors Heskett and Sasser wrote, "Like anything worthwhile, culture is something in which you invest. An organization's norms and values aren't formed through speeches but through actions and team learning.”
But wait a minute, what happened in the U.S. nuclear force could never happen in your organization – or could it?
Here are eight questions, from our new HP-CAP integrated process, that start to clarify the ‘how’ and ‘why’ we do things the way we do (organizational culture). Do more of your employees believe:
- Policies and procedures are more often used as guidelines or rules?
- Processes are more often skipped or followed?
- Measurements are more often used as a ‘hammer’ or course correction?
- Learning & development is more often ‘check the box’ or expected to be applied?
- Careers have more stumbling blocks or building blocks?
- Overall execution of strategy is more often distracted or focused?
- When goals/objectives are missed there is more often blaming or taking responsibility?
- Feedback to leadership is more often filtered or frank?
What ‘cultural investments’ is your organization making? What are employees learning about ‘the way we do things’ by current leadership actions? Does leadership have its’ hands on the controls or is your culture on autopilot?
Appreciate the value, merit, and impact culture has on engaging and sustaining high performance. Don’t take it for granted – it could lead to potential disaster.