The way they do things.

I was looking for a simplified definition of culture and came across this five-word summary. I’ve had it explained to me before that culture happens whenever two or more people come together, echoing the definition of fellowship. I’ve also heard that culture is not a place; we carry it with us, but just what are we carrying?

Culture comes from a shared understanding of an organization, of the relationships of the parts to the whole, of who we are together, not just individually. Culture encourages us to talk and teaches us silence. It makes jokes, both humorous and painful. When we talk about culture, I tend to think of all of the good things, but it holds all of the toxic negativity too. Culture blocks, culture excuses. Culture can lead you down a dark path to the bitter end.

Culture transforms. A rich vibrant collaborative culture can open up possibilities, transcending silos and small-mindedness, tapping into generosity, creativity, and kindness. The culture, whether good or bad, permeates every part of “the way we do things.” The choice is ours with every decision, everyday. What kind of culture do we build?

Writer, researcher, observer