By Simon D’Arcy
Human beings are wired to survive. The downside of that wiring is reactive thinking and behavior. When you put a group of people together, add complexity, uncertainty and the fast pace of today’s business environment, what you usually end up with is a mediocre corporate culture. The limbic system (the automatic, feeling, quick-reacting part of our mid-brain) interprets ambiguity, uncertainty and differences with others as potential threats and acts accordingly. Left unchecked, this creates what we call a “Culture by Default.” Which is another way of saying this is the culture you get when you ignore culture. Symptoms of a “Culture by Default” include:
- Us vs. them thinking
- Avoiding (e.g., hiding behind email)
- Victim mentality
- Lack of ownership for organization’s strategy and goals
- Underground communications
- Shrinking the game (lowered aspirations)
- Superficial conversations
Multiply these behaviors by the number of employees in your organization and they quickly create a significant drag on performance. It takes a conscious and coordinated effort to create something different. Culture coding is a deliberate endeavor and an active process of designing and embedding a company culture by design.
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