Curing Culture by Default

Computer with post it note saying "Help"
Culture by default can be confusing for everyone within, and outside of, a company.

Culture by default can wreak havoc on even the best brands with the most innovative products. But what does “culture by default” mean? How does it happen? And how can curing culture by default lead to creating culture by design?

What is culture?

Before we can get to solving culture by default, we need to first understand: what is culture? Culture is the combined values, mission, and guidelines in a company. They tell employees how to work and leads to success or failure.

There are three types of culture you will find: culture by default, culture by drill, and culture by design.

What is culture by default?

Culture by default means that there is no published or “on purpose” direction. The culture happens by accident and is often not supportive for success. Employees and leaders are left to define the direction of the company and how they fit into it for themselves. Culture by default is more anti-culture than culture. The lack of clear direction leaves everyone in a company, its stakeholders, and its customers confused. No one models the target culture because the target culture doesn’t exist.

What is culture by drill?

Culture by drill means there are a specific set of words and guidelines that all employees are expected to know. This leads to a negative environment. Everyone understand what is expected and what they are told, but few model the behavior. In fact, many culture by drill companies have upper management who treat the culture like “do as a I say, not as I do.” This is also confusing to anyone involved in the brand, and can lead to resentment and high turnover.

What is culture by design?

Culture by design means everyone understands and lives the guidelines for culture. It’s obvious to insiders and outsiders what the company stands for. It is the best model of culture and behavior in a company because everyone is on the same page, and everyone has the best interests of the brand in mind. It is easier to make decision in your position that positively impact both internal and external stakeholders in the company. Better customer services results in better revenue. Happy employees know what to expect every day in the jobs, and they are more likely to grow with the company.

How do we move from culture by default to culture by design?

If you have ever tried to make a huge, swooping change in your life, you know how quickly that leads to failure. For example, think back to the last big resolution you set for yourself. Unless you planned out the goals and broke them into smaller, easy to accomplish tasks, then you likely didn’t complete it. The same happens when you try to swiftly change a company’s culture.

In order to have the most success with changing from a negative to a positive culture, you need to identify small areas of imperative improvement rather than a major overhaul. Then, you need to break each small change into a repeatable, easy to model guideline. That means that everyone in the company is on board with change and can model the behavior expected.

Curing culture by default is possible, and necessary to achieve growth and retain talent within your company. It is, however, not a fast and easy fix. Take it slow, focus small, and make it easy to implement. Those are the keys to lasting change!

Need help with creating a more positive culture in your company? Read more about how we help with culture changes on our website, and contact Innovative Revolution to continue this conversation.


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