Average Culture / Great Culture

To execute against a world class idea or product, it all starts with world class people.

More so, those people need to deeply share a common belief in, understanding of and pursuit towards a clear culture.

Culture is one of those squishy things though. Is it happy hours and ping pong? Or how about workplace dynamics with a friendly set of policies? Or perhaps a thoughtful manifesto?

So what really is organizational culture anyhow?

Having heard it described a ba-jillion ways, here’s how Wikipedia* defines it:

culture [kuhl-cher] - noun

Organizational culture is the behavior of humans within an organization, and the meaning that people attach to that behavior.

Culture includes the organization’s vision, values, norms, systems, symbols, language, assumptions, beliefs and habits.

* Kudos to Josh Levine, Co-Founder of Culture Lab X, for sharing the definition.

Here at Oven Bits, we’ve audited our own culture by internally asking a big question:

When there’s a ___________ company culture, what are the outcomes?

Average Great
profit is the end profit is a means to an end
choppy and sluggish decision making rhythmic decision making
ideas are limited to certain people, departments or roles ideas come from anywhere
risk taking is concentrated within the organization risk taking is distributed throughout the organization
the destination is fulfilling the journey and the destination are fulfilling
wrestle people wrestle ideas
me-focused ambition we-focused ambition
an acquisition defines success an enduring mission defines success
there are gaps between what is and what should be said there is rigorous candor
don’t bring surprises to management discuss challenges openly
everyone understands the ‘what’ everyone understands the 'how and why’
a common sense of being involved an institutionalized sense of ownership
the org chart is an idealized hierarchy the org chart indicates operational reality
rarely celebrate wins often celebrate wins
revolving door of personnel a team dynasty built on retention
comfort motivated results motivated
initial pursuit of answers initial pursuit of questions
fail late fail fast
“…that’s not my job, project, etc” “…how can I help?”
leaders are the talent ceiling leaders are the talent floor
silos cross-pollination
reactive tasks proactive goals
title-driven leadership decentralized leadership
internally centric customer centric
hiring is based on lack of weakness hiring is based on strengths
clients know us as a dev shop clients know us as trusted advisors
truth is known in the hallways truth is known in the meetings
heavy management empowerment
focus on actions focus on outcomes
vanity metrics are discussed actionable metrics are discussed
ego-led perspectives borrowing brilliance
design pixels and write code solve a problem
quality, great and phenomenal are self-proclaimed words quality, great and phenomenal are earned words
value is placed on creativity or process value is placed on creativity and process
culture is talked about culture is talked about and lived out
we have a client and they have a vendor we’re partners
we service visitors, users, customers we service people
faith and business are disconnected faith and business are interconnected
the company has a culture the company is the culture

Oven Bits is in continual pursuit of a great culture company. Just like there’s no one type of company; there’s no one type of culture. The column of Great represents the shared pursuit of the Oven Bits culture. We count on everyone to keep, protect and grow it.

That damn mediocrity magnet though.

Great cultures don’t just happen. They’re not the default setting. They don’t arrive via autopilot. And they aren’t pre-packaged.

Great cultures result from an intentional and continued pursuit. They need to be planted, gardened, watered, weeded, tended, nurtured, pruned, rinsed and repeated.

Left to default settings, they gradually revert back to a probability distribution of average. It’s that same damn magnet that we, as individuals, have baked-into our internals that affects all aspects of our lives.

  • If I don’t eat well, I’ll gravitate towards an average health.
  • If I don’t exercise, my body will revert back to its mean sense of genetic shape, strength and fit.
  • If I don’t invest in quality time, my relationships will have an average depth.
  • If I don’t reprogram my brain to lead with questions, I’ll naturally lose my beginner’s mind.

How have you experienced organizational culture?

Would genuinely love to hear experiences and perspectives alike! Write me at micah.davis@ovenbits.com and please do share.