What This Blog is About

A long time mentor and friend, Cicely Berry, often says: "all we do comes from our need to survive".

Cis is the Voice Director of The Royal Shakespeare Company. Her profound work and deep appreciation of the human spirit has affected diverse communities all over the world.

Will take you to my current work.

This blog is dedicated to the belief that the overall health of a community or organization is a clear reflection of their ability to communicate.

"Cada cabeza es un mundo" - Cuban proverb

"Every head is a world"

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Measuring Culture?

It is commonly believed in organizations that measuring culture is difficult or actually impossible.

Yet, experts press on. I just heard a pod cast discussing this concept.

There are new measurements like Density of Communication and others, that have developed from learning about social networks. They are useful and relevant.

I have thought about these cultural issues for years. But truthfully, I heard a VP of Creative tell me today, that "my clients are not interested in anything meaningful", as he sighed to let me know that he meant it.

Wow. This statement came from one of the smartest and most committed professionals I have ever met.

I thought about the culture he works in and what could be measured? His interactions or his sigh?

So here's a thought:

Should culture be thought of as something to measure?

In fact, culture is a living entity that actually exists as an ongoing reflection/measurement of our collective experience. What are organizations looking for?

What is it about organizational behavior that makes us think we need to abstract our life experience to align with non-real business concepts?

You know, the current business "buzz" that inevitably moves into the Bermuda Triangle. It's amazing how we rush to rally and conform to "acceptable" concepts while working for companies that are allegedly committed to Innovation. Is that a cultural trait? Is it measurable?

Here's another notion:

When we think of atoms, why do we almost believe that atoms exist as red and white plastic spheres that connect to one another? It's as if "the real" and "the reality" we have created are the same thing.

One great philosopher said: "Reality, not the real, is dependent upon care"

In some ways, I find business explanations sometimes confuse the real from the abstraction and few organizations take care to distinguish between the two.

In cultures that truly "take care" to be inclusive and recognize the human dignity of effort and contribution, there is little need to measure the culture. Rather, the effort is to support its life.

The ancient Greeks defined "Economy" as the ability to sustain the life of something for as long as possible.

It's no wonder why we believe that Power Point presentations are a reflection of what we conceive to be factual. Mental models are often mistaken for true cultural elements.

Actually, it's funny when I think about our image of what atoms are and how hard we labor for slides 1 through 23 to be reduced to 1 through 5. As if rearranging the plastic atoms will significantly change conditions.

Abstractions of our experience -- measuring culture and finding a way to create a work place that for all of us, is built on what is real. It's been an interesting day.



Anonymous said...

Having worked with Sal and knowing his grandeur of thought combined with his charismatic intelligence makes his words are more profound today as they were years ago. Sal you are a man of many talents – a true Renaissance Man – the most preeminent is your ability to address and put to word the intangible. Sal, your gift with the written word is truly enviable. You take what we all know, and think but yet can not craft the picture for all to see and you articulate it with true precision and poignancy. Culture and economy are intricately tied to one another, yet corporate America has yet to grasp it…all we have to do is look at the consume confidence and the economy. Somehow we have examples like Google, who has embraced culture as a driver and look at their success….but yet Wall Street thinks of them as kitschy and waits for their bubble to burst. The classical behemoths called corporate America waits for them to falter, as if to some how validate that culture has no true value … shareholder value. Culture and responsibility to that culture drive the “extra effort” of the workforce that is to provide shareholder value, especially in a weakened economy. The pundits talk of increasing productivity to gain an extra margin of revenue…but it is individuals like you, Sal, who truly inspire a culture that embraces productivity with respect of the individual. When will they all have the epiphany that you make sound so no-nonsense. Thank you!

- Donna Spilker-Leahy

sal said...

Thank you so much for your kind words. They mean a great deal knowing the dedication and heart you put into your work.

All the best,