I wanted to add this sentence to the title, but it was making it too long:
Have you look at your culture lately?
Culture forms the matrix of all human interactions, and it seems that the awareness of its impact on business and life is finally reaching mainstream. Merriam Webster has named "culture" word of the year (2014) andAdvertisingAge points out that "culture becomes crucial to customer engagement and brand building in 2015", and that success of a company"is increasingly measured by their ability to gain cultural traction."
Culture forms the matrix of all human interactions, and it seems that the awareness of its impact on business and life is finally reaching mainstream. Merriam Webster has named "culture" word of the year (2014) and AdvertisingAge points out that "culture becomes crucial to customer engagement and brand building in 2015", and that success of a company"is increasingly measured by their ability to gain cultural traction."
But what the heck is culture and how to make sense of all the different opinions about it? Here are 9 issues that may help you reflect on how culture is both a result and an influencer of human interaction:
#1. You (or anybody!) Cannot Escape Culture! Because the moment you try to do it, you automatically become part of The Culture of Those Who Are Trying To Escape Culture. In a broad sense, culture is defined as the customs, behaviors and achievements of a particular group of people. In a Global Network Economy is crucial to at least have some awareness of what connects people, objects and services within various cultures, as well as how cultures connect with each other in larger networks.
#2. Cultures Organize themselves in Circles. There is a large number of Culture Circles, and each of them has another large number of subculture circles. They often intersect or superimpose each other, creating synergies or conflicts, depending on the awareness, knowledge and abilities of those who form the culture. Examples of more visible cultures: Work/Organizational Culture; National Culture; Customers/Users Culture; Family & Friends Culture; Generational Culture.
#3. Culture Optimization uses Culture Analytics. In case you did not noticed the order in which I arranged the different examples of culture above, take another look. Which one did I put first? Yes, the Culture of Work. As it turns out, certain (national) cultures consider Work/Job/Achievement as the most important thing in their life, while others could care less about working if it wasn't for the money that allows them to sip a beer every evening in the public piazza with their friends, watching people strolling and children playing. The culture metric that measures this crucial difference in the way we view life and work is called Being vs. Doing, and it's responsible for very different ways in which people (employees, customers, etc.) behave in the US, Italy, China or Brazil. As an example, US culture focuses mostly on doing and achieving (68%), while Latvians' doing index is only 36%. Other crucial culture metrics measure perception of power & hierarchy, or behavior in the face of uncertainty - more details about those in a future article.
#4. Culture Is Deeply Related to Globalization.
If 20 years ago you could still comfortably wallow in denial about the importance of culture, globalization and the Network Economy is throwing culture right in your face. Going global used to be a one-way bull-horn, in which powerful multinationals would just open another branch and sell the same cr-p (or a slightly modified version) in various countries. Not anymore. Technology allows consumers to inform each other instantly about various products and services, creating specific Customer Cultures. The winners are those able to establish authentic, meaningful, transparent and long-lasting relationships with their potential customers. And for that, my friends, you, your CEO, Board & Co. need to develop...
#5. Cultural Intelligence. I define Cultural Intelligence as the capability to interact optimally across a variety of cultures (organizational, national, ethnic, generational), as well as all the cultures that customers create around brands, products or services. The keywords here are optimally, which is very different from "perfect", or "the best"; and any, which refers to the fact that cultural intelligence, as opposed to all other approaches out there, helps people to deal with all types of cultures. Cultural intelligence can be enhanced through education, training, and experience, and this is why it often comes handy the advice of a...
#6. Culture Influencer = a professional who is passionate, knowledgeable and skillful enough to help others make sense of how culture is created and influences our choices, decisions, behavior and ultimately, quality of life. Just to make sure everybody understands: a Culture Influencer is NOT a culturemanipulator. Instead, she or he partners up with organizations and key individuals and help them gain awareness of the extent to which culture effectively influence choice and decision-making.
#7. The Culture of Innovation. There are no numbers in the world to count how many times I heard the word innovation the San Francisco Bay Area and Silicon Valley. I personally identify with Vincent Cerf's and David Nordfors'concept, that innovation occurs when "all people create value, wealth and wellbeing for each other".
#8. Culture Cannot Be Separated From Leadership. Globalization, however, has changed this game too. Deloitte names "building global leadership" as "by far the most urgent". A true 21st Century leader needs to be capable of communicating, interacting and relating across any unfamiliar culture. The problem is, Deloitte research further demonstrates, that the gap between the urgency of global leadership skills and the capability to provide them is widening each year. This is, in fact, a huge business opportunity.
#9. The Future of Culture. Skeptics point out that people have started to use this word in many contexts, and that soon enough it will lose meaning and become just another buzzword. Totally agree: as with everything, many go for the buzz and few for the meaning. However, since it is the matrix of any social network and interaction, Culture (and its Culture Influencers) will soon get the buzz out of everyone, so that they can focus on the meaning.
Globalization, the Network Economy and the Internet of Things are all becoming very complex matters, which cannot be sorted out without having an in depth knowledge of culture. Data and research confirm it without equivocation.