Why is "culture" so hard to figure out? | Collective Next

Why is “culture” so hard to figure out?

Figuring out what makes up a healthy, productive culture in a workplace is a slippery proposition. Everyone agrees that there IS such a thing as culture at work: the set of mores, attitudes, and values that the entire team shares and contributes to. And we all want those shared beliefs to be positive. We want our work culture to facilitate a sense of belonging and psychological safety. We want to work in a place where we feel valued, where that feeling is woven into the fabric of our day-to-day efforts.

But the workplace is, at the end of the day, an entity focused on production. And so we treat the nebulous, slippery notion of culture as something that we can simply produce. We assume that if we treat culture the way we would any other project or initiative, we can simply create it like we would any other piece of deliverable work.

And has that ever really worked?

The myth of “solving” culture

You’re already, always affecting the culture of your organization, whether you know it or not. Every meeting we conduct, every task we assign, every offhanded remark we make to our colleagues: whenever we do anything that affects the people we work with, we contribute to and make an impact on our organizational culture. And the effect we have is even greater as managers and leaders.

Most of the time, we aren’t intentionally aware of how our actions and mindsets can have an impact on the cultures we’re a part of. Most of the time, we don’t think about culture at all. When we do pay attention and think about it, it’s usually when something has gone wrong. We then start to look for the shortest possible path to a “solution,” as if culture is something that can be solved.

The good news is that healthy, productive, inspiring cultures can be fostered and cultivated. The process isn’t simple, and it can’t be done overnight. But by drawing on the insights already present in your organization—by engaging your entire team and honestly assessing what makes your organization unique—you can begin the work of creating and sustaining the kind of culture that will elevate everyone that’s a part of it. And that effort can take your team to a whole other level.

Where do we start?

For the next few months, our newsletter will be exploring some initiatives focused on fostering dynamic, inspiring workplace cultures. In the meantime, we’d love to hear from you about how your team approaches this tricky, critical topic. What kind of culture does your workplace have? How have you approached thinking about culture in the past? Reach out to us today to talk.

Immersive Web Experiences / Alexion Culture Transformation Story

This external facing website is designed to showcase the culture transformation that Alexion underwent since 2017. The site utilizes an innovative scroll-based animation design, and also featured a cross-team effort that included creative, production, and digital teams.