Archives for posts with tag: Culture

Culture, practice and customs seem to highly sway the concept of punctuality. In some cultures it’s considered bad form to be late; in others, it’s considered the norm.

Context is another aspect to punctuality. There’s no point turning up fashionably late for a train, a flight or a show, but in many cultures it’s advised for things like parties. Perhaps that’s why the rather helpful ‘7:30 for 8’ invitation works so well. Don’t turn up any earlier than 7:30, but the important thing starts at 8 so come and have a chat or nibbles and don’t be later than 8. A 30-window is enough for the top 90% of organised people.

Which got me thinking: speaking for my culture, punctuality is one thing, but being early is often as inconvenient to your host or the person you’re picking up as it is being late. If someone says they’ll pick you up in 40 minutes, which gives you enough time to pack, shower and get ready, and then they turn up 20 minutes later, when you’re in the shower, you get a rushed and stressed start to your day.

There always has to be the first people to arrive at a party, but have you ever got the time wrong and arrived early? Misread or misremembered an 8 til late as a 7 til late? It’s a major pain, for you and your host.

Same rules apply in business and work, methinks…

It’s really hard to change the culture iof an organisation. It’s even harder to do it quickly.

This is because culture is made up of people, who themselves find it particularly hard to change their engrained behaviour, as you might expect. You’re expecting people to change who they are. Not gonna happen, at least not without a ton of effort, time and patience.

I remember working with a company in the last 2o years where we worked hard on establishing the mission and values of the organisation, those important things we stood for. The difference, however, between what was on paper and what was exhibited by people, from the CEO down, was considerable. The value statements looked great on paper, but that was not how the company behaved.

This is why culture eats strategy for lunch, and why it’s so important that, once you’ve genuinely established the culture of your organisation, you hire people who are true to that culture. It’s easier said than done.

People and culture don’t change. Sometimes people join a company and find the culture is different to their experiences of it before they joined. Other times people join a company thinking – or more likely hoping – that the prevailing culture there is a good fit for them. In either situation, if you find yourself in a business either where the corporate culture is not your culture, it’s a good idea to consider trying to find a company where there is a fit, preferably as soon as possible.

‘Culture eats strategy for lunch.’ I love this phrase!

I hadn’t heard it in a while and was reminded of it recently in a meeting. It makes me laugh out loud when I hear it. It’s both pithy and witty. I don’t know if Peter Drucker did first coin the phase, but I think the sentiment rings true.

But why does culture eat strategy for lunch? My view on this is as follows: if all of your staff behave in the same way, and have the same attitude, and these behaviours are consistent with corporate culture, then whatever they execute is going to be done consistently too. They’re all pulling in the same direction, for the same things.

Strategy is only as good as the success, consistency and constancy with which it’s applied. When the culture’s not right, you don’t have everyone buying into the way things are done. It’s half-assed execution.

Culture is a bit like the goodwill you get from a brand. It’s hard to quantify but you know it’s important, you know it has immense value, and you want it for yourself or your business.

And that’s why culture never goes hungry.



When you live online for so long, experiencing the world largely in 2D, even with moving pictures, you forget that there’s really no substitute for the real thing.

I get reminded of this every time I’m at a physical event. I’m not talking about office work or a meeting, I’m talking about an organised event, the culture of the physical, or perhaps the physics of the culture. It’s more than just physical, it’s emotional, sensory, visceral in some cases.

The other day I was at an oyster festival and there was a cultural exchange between an Irish region and a French region – known primarily for its wine, an added bonus – going on in the marquis. The Irish as hosts had laid down a dance floor and there was an Irish dancing demonstration by the local youth troupe who happened to have just won some big word championship thing.

Man, it was fantastic! I’ve not experienced the Riverdance phenomenon, but I have seen Irish dancing before. Being there in a marquis of maybe 100 people, up close, I was barely two metres away from the dancers. It was literally spine-tingling, almost Newtownian in the sense that you feel part of the energy they’re expending and creating in the room.

I made a mental note to fill the family’s calendar with as much culture as possible.