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How to build and transform culture in your organisation

by | Sep 21, 2021

The big idea: shape and frame the culture in your organisation.

Waymaker podcast: S1:E13

Mould your company’s values, principles and behaviours to shape the ultimate organisational culture.

As a leader, you might be unfamiliar with how to build a or transform the culture in your organisation. This is not unusual. We find that leader’s often don’t know where to start.

We unpack on how to build or transform the culture within your organisation through:

  • How culture is built off behaviours
  • Importance of building a culture
  • Building an objective lens around culture

Listen & watch ‘How to build (or transform) culture’

(Keep reading on for more content.)

Transcript

How to build culture

00:02
welcome to leadership talk
00:04
the official waymaker podcast where we
00:07
explore how your organization can
00:10
achieve more by doing less
00:14
[Music]
00:22
welcome to leadership talk the official
00:24
waymaker podcast i’m your host craig
00:26
hindman and with me as always is ceo and
00:29
founder of waymaker stuart leo stu how
00:32
are you i’m great craig i’m i’m really
00:34
good actually
00:35
um we’ve come out of our
00:38
our lockdowns and our shutdowns and
00:41
we’re back at work it’s exciting that’s
00:44
awesome i’ve just come away from a
00:45
five-day photography tour in the
00:47
flinders ranges in south australia which
00:49
was fascinating that is beautiful it was
00:53
really good hey stu off air we’ve been
00:55
talking about solving you know
00:57
business business problems and
00:59
organizational structures and all the
01:00
rest of it and last episode we talked
01:02
about the difference between
01:04
we were talking about culture and we
01:05
were talking about the difference
01:06
between values
01:08
principles and behaviors
01:11
in terms of uh culture
01:13
but we wanted to continue to talk about
01:15
uh culture in this episode because i
01:17
guess you the biggest question is like
01:19
you know how do we actually build it
01:21
like where do we even start that’s
01:23
rebuilding culture
01:25
so we thought we’d talk about that in
01:26
this episode that’s right um because
01:28
that’s the helpful practical piece and
01:30
you’re right last episode we talked
01:32
uh values principles behaviours and and
01:34
as a recap a value is something like
01:37
honesty trust excellence
01:40
a principle is turning that value into
01:45
something more like a rule or a
01:47
guideline that frames and sets up
01:49
behaviors so
01:50
truth being the value
01:52
the principle is we always tell the
01:54
truth the behavior is i told the truth
01:57
you know that’s that’s and why do we do
01:59
that because
02:01
um it helps us frame and shape um
02:04
culture which
02:05
is really the way we do things
02:08
and that’s behaviours
02:10
do we have consistent behaviors around
02:13
the way we do things and so values
02:15
principles behaviors starts to shape
02:17
culture
02:18
but how do you really then as a leader
02:21
get your hands around it
02:24
understand it
02:25
um maybe today where is it sitting
02:27
objectively and where do you want to be
02:29
into the future and that actually
02:32
most people don’t know how to do
02:34
most people have had the values
02:35
conversation
02:36
oh we’ve whacked some values on the wall
02:38
and aren’t we great because we we have
02:40
respect and integrity and trust and blah
02:42
blah blah but why hasn’t our culture
02:45
changed and yes that’s what we want to
02:47
talk about today how do you put rubber
02:49
on the road i remember like the culture
02:51
is so frustrating because it takes so
02:53
long
02:54
um that would i hope from australian
02:56
culture i i hope you’ve got a magic
02:58
bullet for it but i actually remember a
03:00
thought leader once saying that um you
03:02
don’t teach culture you be culture
03:04
discuss
03:07
of course i mean
03:09
culture is the way we do things around
03:11
here that’s that that really common
03:13
terminology but and culture is built off
03:15
our behaviors um
03:17
and um we’re going to go a little bit
03:19
deeper into those behaviors of things we
03:22
do
03:24
because you you can’t mandate culture
03:26
you can’t
03:27
it’s not culture when you mandate it um
03:30
yeah it’s it’s
03:32
it’s policy
03:34
and policy only lasts as long as you can
03:37
enforce the policy
03:38
that’s and at some point
03:41
um
03:42
you you end up um
03:44
in
03:44
[Music]
03:45
authoritative
03:47
regimes you you start shooting people to
03:50
make people do things
03:51
um in in organizations at some point
03:54
you’ve got to stop whacking people
03:56
with policy and start
03:58
leading people um by setting examples by
04:01
demonstrating how
04:02
um and and so great leadership
04:06
yes is supported with policy that
04:08
clarifies that articulates that puts the
04:11
strong foundations underneath but
04:15
nobody ever remembers a 52-page policy
04:19
on how to do something
04:21
they learn how to do it it becomes a
04:24
part of who they are and then they do it
04:27
and so that’s what we’ve got to focus on
04:29
how do we
04:31
how do we build that dna inside our
04:33
culture and that comes from example that
04:35
comes from being that comes from showing
04:38
from
04:39
teaching
04:40
from building processes from guiding
04:42
people from helping them from correcting
04:45
them
04:46
actually calling people out and you’ve
04:48
not done that right here’s the right way
04:50
to do it
04:52
and
04:53
so often in culture
04:55
we forget that
04:58
the process of cultural alignment is
05:00
actually a process of discernment and
05:02
discipline
05:03
to create the right processes and
05:06
behaviors and
05:08
and teach people how to do it well and
05:10
then dare i say modeling that of course
05:12
yeah yeah absolutely and if you can’t
05:15
model it as the leader then
05:18
it’ll never be
05:20
the culture because they’ll just model
05:22
you
05:22
and they won’t believe what you say
05:24
they’ll only believe what you do and say
05:27
and
05:29
you start hearing the language uh around
05:32
around the office and around the
05:33
organization as well like that’s not who
05:34
we are or this is who we are like it’s
05:37
it’s more of a
05:38
um
05:40
yeah not just not not just that’s not
05:42
what we do but it’s more like that’s not
05:44
who we are correct yeah and that’s the
05:46
shift
05:47
you know you’re building culture
05:50
when you know that you’re building
05:53
behaviors on clarity of who we are
05:56
not what we do
05:57
yeah and
05:58
and that’s the difference and that’s why
06:00
in our
06:01
in our leadership framework the way make
06:02
a leadership
06:04
curve
06:06
identity
06:08
is the very first big chunk of thinking
06:10
because it’s in figuring out who we are
06:13
in the marketplace in the community
06:16
that we begin to frame how we will then
06:19
act and
06:21
who we are encompasses all the things of
06:24
finding fit
06:26
do we have a product or a service that
06:28
fits do customers want it are we really
06:30
solving a problem out there in the
06:32
community
06:34
and it also includes the elements of
06:37
well
06:38
who are we
06:40
we solve this problem but who are we as
06:42
we solve this problem
06:44
and many different organizations solve
06:46
the same problem in the marketplace
06:49
but they do it in different ways
06:52
as different characters and that’s not a
06:53
bad thing because not everybody wants to
06:55
have the same problem solved by the same
06:57
group of people
06:58
so
06:59
figuring out who you are as an
07:01
organisation is that character and
07:03
you’ll hear us talk
07:05
around
07:06
brand and reputation and culture and and
07:08
just simply that
07:10
culture is the internal character of the
07:13
organization
07:15
reputation is the external
07:16
representation of that and the
07:18
organization’s brand is their character
07:21
and and so character um
07:24
is the very heart and when i use the
07:26
term identity i’m referring to character
07:28
really who are we what do we stand for
07:31
why are we here
07:33
and when we know that that shapes our
07:35
behaviors
07:36
and
07:37
if we are
07:39
split personalities split identities
07:42
split characters
07:44
then we will by nature do things
07:46
differently across the organization
07:48
that conflicts and that will create
07:51
conflict
07:53
and the organization will suffer
07:54
internally it will be toxic because it
07:56
doesn’t know who it is and and it’ll
07:58
have it’ll need a vaccine to use a word
08:00
of the moment
08:02
it’ll need something that removes that
08:04
toxicity from the bloodstream
08:06
of the organization
08:08
um to bring order back into into
08:11
consistency of character
08:13
so stu
08:14
where do we where do we start to
08:16
actually build culture or transform it
08:18
there would there would actually be two
08:19
types of organizations maybe that might
08:21
be in our view here ones like existing
08:23
organizations that
08:25
maybe have
08:27
an unhealthy culture and we want to help
08:29
them shape it in a different way and
08:31
then there’s the far easier in
08:34
in quotation marks um
08:36
a process of actually starting something
08:37
from scratch right and going okay well
08:39
if we had a blank canvas
08:41
how would we build it yeah this is what
08:42
we would do so with those two with those
08:45
two
08:46
um
08:46
you know thoughts in mind where do we
08:48
start yeah the the biggest problem um
08:51
certainly i’ve found and we’ve found as
08:53
um
08:55
uh as as waymaker um
08:58
is that we we tend to know kind of what
09:01
we want as leaders
09:03
yep um we want people to enjoy coming to
09:06
work we want we want it to be fulfilling
09:08
we want them to enjoy their work we want
09:10
them to
09:11
have have some fun at work and
09:14
we want them to learn and grow and you
09:16
know there’s a lot of good things we can
09:18
typically describe about the kinds of
09:20
culture we want
09:22
but what we often struggle to do is
09:24
objectify that to make it concrete um
09:28
and and therefore we struggle to go well
09:31
because i can’t
09:33
make something that’s fairly abstract
09:35
because i can’t make that abstract thing
09:37
concrete
09:38
i can never really get a bearing on
09:41
where we are today
09:42
and the gap between where we need to be
09:45
tomorrow
09:46
and it’s a bit like sailing a boat
09:49
when you’ve lost your electronic gps and
09:52
you can’t see the sun or the stars you
09:54
can’t really get i don’t really know
09:56
where i am i don’t have longitude and
09:58
latitude
09:59
and because i don’t know where i am i
10:01
actually can’t plot a course to my
10:03
ideal destination
10:05
so i think i’ll have a crack maybe i’ll
10:07
go this way
10:09
and and that’s
10:10
that’s the pain that’s the problem
10:14
what we’re going to talk to now is how
10:16
do we
10:17
get that first bearing how can we
10:19
create an objective lens around our
10:22
culture
10:24
and so
10:26
we have a really simple framework in the
10:28
waymaker toolkit
10:29
which is in waymaker academy and under
10:32
culture shapers
10:34
and the first part of this is the lens
10:38
to bring
10:40
an objectivity to the subjective to the
10:43
abstract
10:44
and we dissect a culture
10:46
through
10:47
four lenses
10:49
and
10:50
those four lenses are
10:54
language
10:56
stories stories
10:58
symbols symbols that’s right and
11:00
currency currency thank you i was uh
11:03
um they were there just had to get them
11:05
out
11:06
so let me say that again language
11:09
symbols
11:10
stories
11:11
and currency yeah and if you use that
11:14
filter that framework
11:16
which we’re going to go into and dissect
11:19
you can actually start
11:21
to objectify
11:23
the the culture you can put stuff that’s
11:26
going on into buckets into boxes and you
11:28
can work on them
11:30
and then you can step back and you can
11:32
do the classic retrospective questioning
11:35
process of
11:36
what should we stop
11:38
yeah what should we start
11:41
and what should we continue
11:43
and now
11:45
if you’ve answered those questions you
11:47
can start setting some goals you can
11:49
actually go we should stop doing this
11:50
we’ve got a goal to stop doing something
11:52
that’s unusual a goal to stop doing
11:54
something
11:55
we’ve got some goals to start doing some
11:58
things
11:59
and we’ve got some goals to grow and
12:01
continue some things
12:03
and now we can start to put some
12:05
objectivity some focus through goal
12:08
setting into our culture is that making
12:10
sense yeah it is
12:11
so
12:12
so let’s start with language then like
12:14
if we’re yeah if we’re going to begin to
12:16
dissect let’s let’s start with language
12:18
great um
12:19
i often um
12:21
because many of our listeners
12:23
will have not lived through the same
12:25
organizations that say you or i have
12:28
lived through and we haven’t lived
12:29
through the same organizations it’s
12:31
sometimes hard to do this
12:32
at an organisation level so
12:35
let’s elevate that up
12:37
to a country level i find this as often
12:39
oh great yeah okay yeah i love it this
12:42
is this is a bit easier and a bit of fun
12:44
all right good so if we’re going to
12:45
dissect a culture the way we do things
12:47
around here and if we put that country
12:50
on national lens around this and we
12:52
suddenly go with language
12:54
um
12:55
the way
12:57
we’re australians
12:58
the way australians speak
13:01
is definitely not the queen’s english
13:04
it’s it’s a form of english but it’s not
13:06
english
13:07
um the english
13:09
[Music]
13:11
would look at us and and go oh yeah
13:13
those those convicts down under
13:16
um
13:19
they don’t speak properly um
13:21
and we don’t we we have 200 years of
13:25
culture that has shaped the english
13:27
language we we say g’day
13:30
um
13:30
which is the shortened good day sir um
13:33
from the english uh
13:35
we we we say how are you going
13:38
um and there you are
13:41
which
13:43
is how are you going how are you going
13:46
that’s four words with no spacing
13:49
with no breath four words turned into
13:51
one um
13:53
you know we we have these phrases and
13:56
language we we we use language in a way
14:00
that’s different from other cultures
14:02
even though it might be on the same
14:04
construct
14:05
and in that language we convey meaning
14:09
and organizations do the same thing
14:13
the bigger the organization gets
14:15
the more
14:16
complex their language actually gets
14:18
i’ve as an external sometimes coming to
14:21
an organization and you sit with the
14:22
leadership team
14:24
and two minutes in as they’re giving an
14:26
update on what’s going around the
14:27
business you’re like i have no idea what
14:30
anybody just said
14:31
i’ve just counted 15 three-letter
14:33
acronyms
14:34
yeah you’re talking in a language
14:37
and in a way that is entirely foreign to
14:40
an outsider
14:42
but you’re using words from the english
14:44
language
14:45
and um
14:47
so language can be a barrier
14:50
um
14:51
to
14:52
either building good communication
14:55
or enhancing good communication
14:57
and the way we speak can be one of the
15:00
ways we look at how we build culture
15:04
great does that make sense are we
15:05
starting to so you could look at your
15:07
organization an organization of three
15:09
people 10 people or 3 000 people
15:12
and i i challenge you to do this
15:15
sit back in the next meeting um or
15:17
workshop
15:18
and listen to the language and
15:21
um
15:22
and and um identify all these things
15:27
i’m going to get in trouble saying this
15:28
but i used to work in a corporation that
15:30
um
15:31
had um some great characters and fun
15:34
people
15:36
and we used to play and i’ll leave the
15:38
leave the names out but we used to play
15:40
bingo in
15:42
in some of our meetings pcgs and
15:44
workshops
15:46
because we would know that certain
15:47
people would use certain phrases and
15:49
they would have a consistent level of 20
15:51
phrases
15:52
and
15:54
just to keep the meetings in the meeting
15:56
is interesting
15:57
and
15:59
all that is is a reflection that there’s
16:01
a language in our culture
16:03
um
16:04
that starts to build um
16:07
in that same organization we had a ceo
16:10
who
16:11
um
16:12
who was really and this wasn’t even part
16:14
of our um
16:16
it wasn’t part of our corporate dna or
16:18
value sets or
16:20
anything but um
16:22
we were in a development organization
16:24
that had engineers and urban designers
16:26
and architects and sales people and
16:28
marketers and finance people all around
16:30
the table designing and developing
16:33
precincts and and communities and so in
16:36
that mix of people there’s a there’s a
16:38
lot of um a lot of personalities there’s
16:41
a lot of
16:42
a types b type c types there’s a lot of
16:44
soft people hard people people that see
16:46
things in black and whites people that
16:48
see things in color people are just
16:50
focused on the numbers in the short term
16:51
people that are focused on the big ideas
16:54
and so it’s easy for conflict to appear
16:56
as you as you fight for what you want in
16:59
the product outcome
17:00
[Music]
17:01
and and so he put this um this great
17:04
phrase into the business um
17:07
where he said we must as a as a business
17:09
as an organization we must argue
17:11
gracefully
17:13
and that’s always stuck with me because
17:15
he said you must die in a ditch around
17:17
the boardroom table to fight for what
17:19
you believe is right but you must walk
17:21
out of that boardroom as friends and
17:24
colleagues
17:26
and the way we’re going to do that is
17:27
we’re going to argue gracefully and he
17:29
injected some language into the business
17:33
um you know big hairy bulldog corporate
17:35
business
17:36
that said argue the hell out of what’s
17:38
right
17:40
but then have this measure of grace in
17:41
it so that so that you play
17:44
you play the the ball not the man do you
17:47
remember we did that once you and i did
17:49
we we had a bit of it we have a bit of a
17:51
disagreement back it was
17:53
decades ago
17:56
all right it wouldn’t have been right
17:57
and then and then you’re like why don’t
17:59
you just you need to come over
18:01
and we’ll just sit down we’ll have a
18:02
whiskey and we’ll
18:04
we’ll argue gracefully
18:06
and did i say that yeah yeah we um well
18:08
you know it was around those lines and
18:10
we we checked glasses and we we
18:13
had a couple of
18:15
whiskies and we we had it out and we
18:17
were still friends
18:19
there you go
18:20
so clearly that leadership
18:23
we are modeling we are modeling the
18:25
culture
18:27
um 20 years later yeah
18:30
and um but i think i think if you’re
18:32
listening you’re probably starting to
18:33
get the idea here that language as
18:36
leaders language can
18:38
shape
18:39
um those behaviors and so
18:42
um that particular ceo um
18:45
uh guckled rod faring actually i think
18:47
he’s now the chairman of of australian
18:49
here in australia
18:50
um
18:51
a development organisation
18:53
he put in a beautiful
18:55
but powerful
18:58
phrase in the language of the
19:00
organization that shifted the culture
19:03
forward to a place where commercial
19:05
outcomes were met
19:07
and
19:07
positive cultural outcomes were met and
19:10
and i’ve always thought oh that was that
19:12
was a genius move
19:13
yeah right
19:14
so that’s a good example of language um
19:17
uh and if we look at you know we go back
19:19
up to those national um levels um
19:23
uh you know you compare an australian to
19:24
an american um an american to an english
19:27
person
19:28
um an english person to a french person
19:31
um
19:32
uh we we an australian person to a new
19:34
zealander um
19:36
where we’re all talking different
19:39
languages and phrases that are building
19:41
our culture and we have different
19:42
intonations on those things
19:44
um americans are
19:46
um careful
19:50
we’re our friends
19:53
but very strong bulldog loud um
19:57
uh which you know kind of fits because
19:59
it was the strong bulldog loud
20:01
um independent puritans that left
20:04
england
20:05
in the what 15 1600s to go and seek that
20:09
new land
20:10
and left the polite
20:12
conforming
20:16
people behind and so
20:18
what’s ended up is a big loud vibrant
20:21
culture
20:22
and still the um
20:24
uh quite conforming proper culture um
20:28
but both came out of the english culture
20:30
there’s um there’s some great books
20:32
written on that and articles written on
20:34
on how the early culture of those people
20:37
particularly coming out of places i
20:38
think places like yorkshire and you know
20:41
dogged kind of like bulldog kind of
20:44
cultures
20:45
were the people that went to the
20:46
americas in search of that great land
20:48
and and so what do you think happens
20:51
well
20:52
you know 400 years later and 300 million
20:54
people later
20:56
those core traits in their language and
20:58
personalities still exist
21:01
so now we’re just talking language man
21:03
yeah yeah we teach one like we should
21:05
actually move on we should move on yeah
21:07
um
21:08
what do you want to talk about stories
21:09
or symbols oh let’s let’s go with um
21:12
let’s go with symbols um i mean symbols
21:15
are the the easy ones at a national
21:17
level you know what do we have at a
21:18
national level what kind of symbols do
21:19
we have we have flags we have coat of
21:21
arms we have uh anthems that’s right
21:25
yeah they’re all symbols um
21:27
and symbols aren’t always just graphical
21:29
devices we have organisation we have uh
21:32
vegemite also that’s right yes
21:37
not all countries have spreads
21:41
australia is a special place
21:45
that’s right symbols
21:47
flags coat of arms
21:49
animals
21:50
animals but we also have symbols um
21:55
that that can be the way we might do
21:57
something um
21:59
so
22:00
in australia um
22:04
a symbol is very of mateship of you know
22:08
a helping hand speaks deeply to this the
22:11
australian
22:13
culture um because we’re mates um
22:17
we’re the underdogs whether we’re the
22:19
convicts um kicked out to the bottom end
22:21
of the earth
22:22
um
22:23
uh whether
22:25
the people that have and i’m just kind
22:27
of emphasizing um to make a point
22:30
so symbols can be all those things that
22:33
start to
22:35
um represent the thoughts and ideas
22:38
behind and we we stand behind them songs
22:41
you know the unofficial national anthem
22:43
of australia i still call australia home
22:46
um
22:46
you know a broadway song
22:49
and you can do the same in england and
22:51
america and france and denmark and new
22:53
zealand and
22:55
so these symbols are symbols we build
22:58
but symbols
22:59
can also be actions um
23:03
my my father my old man was a
23:06
school principal
23:07
and um
23:09
you know
23:11
all his life teacher and school
23:12
principal and i remember him talking
23:14
about
23:15
changing the culture in a school
23:18
to be one that was more caring they had
23:21
more pride
23:22
that had more
23:24
love for
23:26
your fellow person and community
23:28
and he said probably the most important
23:31
thing we ever did to shift a culture in
23:34
a school that was struggling with that
23:36
was we implemented a symbol a phrase so
23:39
it’s a bit of language and a bit of
23:40
symbol here
23:42
knowing your data would probably be
23:43
latin
23:44
that’s right am i right
23:47
[Laughter]
23:50
but he instituted a really simple symbol
23:52
um uh which was a behaviour where he
23:55
said um
23:56
we the school was called a manual um at
23:59
emmanuel we never walked past
24:01
um rubbish
24:03
we never leave a place dirtier
24:05
than the way we found it
24:07
um
24:08
and
24:09
and he said that one thing
24:11
never walked past a piece of rubbish
24:13
that phrase that symbol when teachers
24:16
would walk past a piece of rubbish
24:18
they’d spend down and pick it up and if
24:19
they didn’t
24:21
another teacher would call them out
24:23
when students walked past a piece of
24:25
rubbish they’d bend down pick it up
24:28
and that one act
24:31
started to spread
24:32
um
24:33
and that one act shaped the culture
24:36
because the picking up of the rubbish
24:39
was just a symbol
24:40
it symbolized we care about the land
24:43
we’re standing on the people around us
24:45
and this and and our school and that
24:47
changed something in the psyche and the
24:49
mindset of the children and the teachers
24:51
and the culture changed and all
24:54
from just not walking past a piece of
24:56
rubbish that’s a good example of a
24:57
symbol does that make sense yeah really
24:59
good i was actually i was actually just
25:01
um googling pick up your rubbish what it
25:03
would be in latin
25:06
you’ll have to text him later
25:08
[Laughter]
25:10
what are we up to we’re done
25:15
so stories again um shape culture so
25:18
well um
25:20
and
25:22
at that national level
25:23
um
25:24
here in australia there are certain
25:26
stories that shape our culture
25:29
the anzac story
25:31
for
25:32
non-anzacians listening that means
25:34
australians and new zealanders
25:36
in world war one there was a great
25:38
battle that was
25:40
fought on the on at gallipoli on the
25:42
shores of turkey where the english sent
25:44
in the australians and new zealanders
25:46
into a complete massacre
25:47
um it was a it was a disaster um
25:51
but uh in that battle um the anzac
25:54
spirit was born
25:57
where australians and new zealanders the
25:59
australian new zealand army corps anzac
26:01
australia and new zealand army corps
26:04
fought against the turkish in world war
26:06
one there was immense mateship immense
26:08
courage under immense
26:11
loss of life and destruction
26:15
and whilst it was a lost battle
26:17
it framed the courage and the
26:20
respect and the integrity and to this
26:22
day
26:24
our two countries australian new zealand
26:25
are unified under that anzac spirit and
26:29
and it drives us we have a public
26:31
holiday
26:34
families
26:35
back home in australia and new zealand
26:37
were making biscuits
26:39
and sending them a crossing tins
26:41
to men at the front and the type of
26:43
biscuit they made was a an oatmeal
26:45
biscuit with syrup and sugar that was
26:48
nourishing and fulfilling and would last
26:51
the journey to the front it’s the
26:53
ultimate dunking biscuit oh it’s amazing
26:55
yeah to this day in australia we call
26:58
that an anzac biscuit um
27:00
and and in new zealand and and so the
27:02
anzac story is a story rich in australia
27:06
and new zealand that defines our culture
27:08
our mateship
27:10
and and in america you you independence
27:13
day um columbus day
27:18
in in england um thousands of years of
27:21
history you can pick your culture
27:23
there are days there are there are
27:26
um stories um that you tell
27:29
um the founding fathers the constitution
27:32
stories
27:33
um the the stories of of the west um
27:38
so i think you’re getting a picture and
27:39
in organizations we have those stories
27:42
sometimes it’s
27:44
it’s that moment when we won in the
27:46
market when we created the product um
27:49
uh it’s when we at all odds survived um
27:54
it’s it’s the
27:55
it’s the great stories of survival and
27:58
of accomplishment of adversity
28:02
that come through and sometimes it’s the
28:04
stories that that an individual have
28:06
done sometimes as a team
28:09
and they’re the stories we tell
28:11
that remind
28:13
new people of who we are and where we’ve
28:16
come from is it the ceo’s responsibility
28:19
to
28:20
develop those stories absolutely yeah
28:23
yeah
28:24
not just the ceo but if the ceo’s not
28:25
doing it really nobody else is yep
28:29
and so you must lead that from the front
28:30
you must be a storyteller
28:33
um
28:35
i have a client and we should get him on
28:37
the podcast at some point
28:39
works in
28:41
works in health and particularly mental
28:43
health
28:44
um
28:45
and
28:48
he he would tell stories um
28:51
so take a step back
28:53
um he was really struggling to
28:54
articulate a vision for his business and
28:56
his organization
28:58
um
29:00
and um months on end this would go on
29:02
really struggling to nail it and i just
29:04
remember one
29:05
thursday friday afternoon working with
29:07
him in his in his office and i was like
29:10
let’s just forget about this for a
29:11
moment just tell me about your customers
29:12
let’s just talk
29:14
what are some stories of change
29:17
and as he started to tell some stories
29:19
of of his customers and the customers
29:22
story
29:24
the light bulb came on for him around
29:26
what his vision was and where this
29:28
business could go and
29:30
and i thought that’s it you don’t need
29:32
fancy vision statements and this or that
29:34
you just need to tell those stories and
29:36
and
29:37
and if you’re listening to this um
29:41
you can convey more in one story that
29:43
lasts two or three minutes than you
29:44
could ever put in a 52-page policy
29:47
document yep and if you get that right
29:50
um then you will shape the culture and
29:52
so i challenge you to think about the
29:54
stories that shape your culture
29:56
um
29:57
okay where are we up to which groups
29:59
we’re up to currency currency okay
30:01
currency i want to define currency um
30:04
uh because at a national context
30:06
currency is easy you know it’s it’s the
30:08
aussie dollar the american dollar the
30:09
english pound the
30:11
the euro
30:14
but um i want you to i want you to think
30:16
about currency
30:18
as the way
30:19
we get things done what’s the currency
30:22
that gets things done in in a national
30:24
context
30:25
money transacts things get done but in
30:27
culture
30:29
it’s not always money
30:31
in australia we have what we call the
30:33
beer
30:35
yeah economy
30:35
know a case of beer can get an awful lot
30:38
of things done yeah um
30:41
it’s the beer economy um
30:43
and and so
30:45
you have to ask yourself that question
30:48
um what gets things done
30:50
in our organization
30:52
and if what gets things done in your
30:54
organization
30:55
is you know the email or the text or the
30:57
phone call from the boss
30:59
then yeah you’ve got a problem
31:01
um
31:02
that’s not good currency
31:04
um
31:05
and so what gets things done how do we
31:07
achieve things and so
31:10
that’s currency and there can be
31:11
multiple forms of currency um
31:14
and so so think about it would this be
31:17
akin to basically saying how do how does
31:19
our staff and employees
31:22
feel valued
31:23
is that
31:24
is it good
31:26
but i’m really i’m really asking the
31:27
question here um how do we get something
31:30
done
31:31
um how do we achieve outcomes um
31:34
so a currency in a national context i i
31:38
put five hundred thousand dollars down i
31:40
get a house i used to um
31:43
like that gets the job done um how do we
31:46
get the job done
31:47
um you know do people have to come in um
31:50
waving baseball bats and ranting and
31:52
raving to get things done well that’s
31:54
that’s probably not good culture
31:56
um
31:57
how do we get things done
31:59
and and so if you answer that question
32:00
honestly it’s not about valuing staff or
32:03
employees it’s about how do we achieve
32:06
um
32:07
because as an organization if we can’t
32:09
get things done then we don’t deserve a
32:11
seat at the table my point there would
32:14
be that if i feel valued then i will
32:17
get things done
32:18
perhaps yeah yep yep that’s right so um
32:22
part of getting things done may require
32:24
you to feel valued i’m a valued member
32:26
of the team yeah absolutely so so
32:28
getting things done might be actually
32:31
decentralization
32:32
empowerment equipping hey craig i value
32:35
you
32:36
um this thing needs to get done
32:38
how are you going to do it what do you
32:40
need from me to get it done that’s a
32:42
very different
32:43
um way of getting things done to hey
32:45
craig you’re responsible for this
32:47
outcome mate it was due last week get
32:49
this
32:50
thing done
32:52
and and get it done yesterday
32:54
[Music]
32:55
that’s two very different cultures
32:57
um
32:58
what’s your culture um how do you get
33:00
things done here’s the question i’m
33:02
asking this so the the task here and i
33:04
want to bring this to a close um
33:06
because we’re running out of time
33:07
rapidly that the lens we’re looking
33:09
through is a lens of language
33:12
symbols
33:13
stories and currency language what do we
33:15
say how do we say it um
33:17
symbols um how do we depict the thoughts
33:20
and ideas and the behaviors
33:22
stories what stories do we tell
33:24
um currency how do we get things done
33:26
and you’ve got to ask the question
33:28
you’ve got to go today
33:30
what does our
33:31
culture what does our organization’s
33:33
culture look like through that lens
33:35
yeah
33:36
and then we can move on
33:38
should the ultimate
33:40
yeah lens look like okay what should we
33:42
start what should we stop what should we
33:44
continue and write some goals have a
33:47
goal to go we should stop this behavior
33:49
we should stop this symbol we should
33:51
stop this language
33:52
and put it in waymaker write a goal
33:55
define the goal define the outcomes
33:57
and objectively determine if you’ve met
33:59
it or not
34:00
[Music]
34:01
and that
34:02
is how you shape and change culture stu
34:04
in your experience
34:06
which column is usually the
34:08
the biggest
34:10
when you do this review oh the start
34:12
stop the start stop continue
34:15
everybody finds it easy to to be
34:18
negative
34:20
so the stop column
34:22
you know often is the easiest thing oh
34:24
we’ve got to stop doing that gotta stop
34:25
turning up late for me to go stop doing
34:26
this go stop saying that um
34:29
actually what’s hard is the start
34:32
um column what should we start
34:34
because that really requires some
34:36
strategic thinking you’ve got to step
34:37
back and go well we’ve got to start
34:39
telling stories
34:41
what stories
34:42
okay
34:43
guys um yeah over the last five years of
34:46
this company
34:47
what are the good stories okay let’s put
34:49
them down let’s document them
34:52
let’s tell them hey do you know hey dear
34:55
csocxo
34:57
cfo
34:58
general manager here manager there team
35:00
leader supervisor do you actually know
35:02
the story of how this company started
35:05
oh no i have no idea let me tell you
35:08
because that speaks to the character of
35:09
who we are today do you know the story
35:10
of
35:11
how we won and beat blah blah blah
35:14
actually no i don’t okay we’ve got to
35:16
learn how to tell that story so actually
35:19
being
35:20
practical
35:21
and going here’s how we tell the story
35:23
here’s how i tell it
35:25
is a part of teaching your team to build
35:27
that culture
35:29
because over time here’s what will
35:30
happen
35:32
they’ll develop their own stories yep
35:34
they’ll tell their own stories yeah some
35:36
of those stories will be good for your
35:38
culture and some of those will be not
35:40
good for your culture
35:43
so yes there’s an element of shaping um
35:46
and going yeah that sits in our
35:49
in our um
35:50
uh
35:51
in our bucket of of culture um
35:55
uh okay we should we really should stop
35:57
there no that’s good so stu this
35:59
framework um
36:01
you can actually like people can
36:02
actually jump on waymaker.io and get
36:04
from the waymaker academy like now
36:07
that’s right and start using it straight
36:09
away with your clients with your
36:11
organization and that will actually be a
36:13
framework that will help you articulate
36:15
um your goals and build better culture
36:19
amen ultimately so uh if you haven’t
36:21
already done that jump on waymaker.io
36:24
sign up go to the waymaker academy
36:25
you’ll find it under culture shapers
36:29
you will
36:30
and uh stu as always sorry we went a bit
36:33
over time this uh this episode but as
36:35
always it’s always great to chat to you
36:36
about all things leadership and
36:39
yeah next time let’s talk more about how
36:41
to achieve more by doing less
36:45
[Music]
36:52
[Applause]
36:55
[Music]
36:59
you

You don’t teach culture, you are the culture

In an organisation, culture is the way we do things. It’s built from the behaviours of the leaders and employees.

You can’t mandate culture because that turns it into policy, and no one wants to remember a 52-page book of the company’s policies.

As a leader, you need to lead people by setting the example and demonstrating how to act. Great leadership is supported with policy to give it a strong foundation.

But, if your team see what you do and if you’re leading by example, it shapes who they are.

And that, is why we call it culture.

How do we build DNA inside culture?

Being, doing and showing.

Often in culture, we forget the process of cultural alignment. It is the process of discernment and discipling.

If you can’t model it as a leader, then your team will never adopt the culture because they will just model you.

They’ll never believe what you say, they’ll just do as you say.

As a leader, know that you’re building culture. You can do this by building clarity of the behaviours of who you are and what you do.

In the Waymaker Leadership Framework, identity is the very first big chunk of thinking. It’s figuring out who you are in the marketplace and the community. It begins to frame how you will act and who you are becoming as an organisation.

Build or transform culture with the Waymaker Leadership Curve

Many organisations solve the same problem, but in different ways.

If we all solved the problem in the same way, we’d never have a sense of character as an organisation which differentiates us from the rest.

Character is the very heart of the organisation. It is knowing why, what and how so we know who we are.

When we know who we are, it shapes our behaviours. If we have split personalities (split identities), then by nature we do things differently across the organization that conflicts, causing the organisation to suffer internally.

It will become toxic because it doesn’t know who it is.

How do we create an objective lens around our organisation’s culture?

Our Academy has an excellent playbook called ‘Culture Shapers’.

This framework helps the leader and team bring objectivity to the culture.

At Waymaker, we dissect culture through four lenses:

  1. Language
  2. Symbols
  3. Stories
  4. Currency

If you use this, you can start to organise the practicalities of the culture. It puts things into context and shows you what you need to work on.

Then you can take a step back and create retrospective questions, such as:

“What should we start, what should we continue and what should we stop?”

Once you’ve answer those questions, you can start setting some goals and tracking them in Waymaker.io, effecting change with accountability and insight.

 

Let’s start with the language lens

The way Australian’s speak is not the Queen’s English. We have 200 years of culture that has shaped the Australian language, such as “G’day” and “She’ll be right, mate”.

We use language that is different from other cultures, even though it may be in the same construct. Within that language, we convey meaning.

Organisations do the same thing.

Language can be a barrier to building good communication or enhancing good communication. Every organisation has built their own language. Especially, the older corporations who have many decades of internal micro societies.

As leaders, we need to look at that language and determine if this is helping or hindering our culture. I’ve sat in some boardrooms where that have been so many three letter acronyms said in one sentacen, to the average human it’s incomprehensible.

Language is the first lens we can look at our culture through.

Next up, the symbols lens

Symbols aren’t just graphical devices in an organisation, they are the way we might do something.

At times, symbols can be all the things that start to represent those thoughts and ideas behind the organisation.

They are built over time but can also be the actions that occur inside an organisation.

They can be graphical devices as well, jut a like a country has a flag, icons or animals that represent a culture or a way of doing things, so do organisation.

For example, if you think of a polar bear, what country do you think of? A koala bear? An elk? If you see a maple leaf, a pint of beer, a glass of champagne…..?

Symbols are the keys to surface ideas. The statue of liberty isn’t just a fancy art installation given by the French to the United States. It is a symbol of liberty, freedom, friendship and unity regardless of race.

What are the symbols inside your organisation? What meanings do they convey? Do you have any? Are you building a positive culture with these symbols?

architecture art clouds landmark
The Statue of Liberty was a join project between the French and the United States to represent liberty and freedom for all.

The stories lens

Stories carry the philosophy of an organisation. Just like a country. Here in Australia, stories of Gallipoli, the ANZACs, early settlers, the Indigenous Dreamtime, sporting moments all shape our current culture.

The ‘mateship’ of the ANZACs still today binds Australia and New Zealand as siblings in the Pacific.

In an organisation, we have developed stories over time.

Maybe when we won in the market, created that innovative product, when we survived the lowest of lows or rose to the highest of highs, the accomplishments, the adversary.

They’re the stories we tell that remind new people of where we are and who we’ve come from.

However, it’s the CEO’s responsibility to develop those stories. If the CEO doesn’t do it, no one else is.

Finally, the currency lens

Currency is about how we get things done. In a country currency is money – it makes things happen. If we think about currency as the ‘how’ something gets done then we can start to understand what drives performance.

If it takes a boss to yell or send late night texts and emails to get things done, then there is something wrong.

Creating currency is about increasing the productivity and efficiency of teams. Look at how things get done, voluntarily and involuntary.

What do you notice? What gets something over the line, who gets things over the line.

You will begin learn there are certain ideas and behaviours that positively increase how things get done and you learn there are certain people that know how to create and spend that currency.

Those people are the banks of your business. Those practices are the currency. Learn how to invest in those people and practices.  

Today, what does our organisation’s culture look like through that lens?

The lens we’re looking through is the lens between language, stories, symbols, and currency.  

How are you using these four lenses to view your organisation?

Can you identify the things you need to stop, start or continue in these four areas?

Try asking your team to identify the language, stories, symbols and currency of your organisation, or work with a Waymaker Certified Advisor to explore this.

Being practical teaches your team how to build that culture.

Start building or transforming your organisation’s culture

Check out Waymaker Academy, and start using it with your clients, your organisation. The Waymaker Leadership Framework will help you build your goals and better articulate your goals and build a better culture.

Jump on waymaker.io and sign up for a free 30-day trial.

By <a href="https://waymaker.io/author/stuart-leo/" target="_self">Stuart Leo</a>

By Stuart Leo

Published on September 21, 2021

Stuart is the CEO & Founder of Waymaker. Stuart is a passionate believer in helping people find their organisation's true north and giving them the tools to get them there. When not exploring new ideas in leadership and management, Stuart is with his family exploring the beautiful regions, islands and coast of Australia.

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