Culture is the underlying mindset determining what we do. Essentially, culture is the sum total of all the belief systems, ways of thinking and patterns of behavior of an individual or group. It’s seemingly invisible and less tangible than concepts like profit/loss. But possibly it’s more important. It is because it establishes our values. And our values determine how we act.
I benefit all the time from the level of diversity among my students. They come from all over the globe. Once, I had nine countries and nine states represented in a room of just twenty students. Only two pairs of students were from the same geographic area. That class also had a range of socioeconomic levels represented. It was amazing. The effect it had on our discussions was that we always had opposing views. And usually, each of the views had validity. That forced us to really think about the generalizations we made. It really hit home that quarter that the more diverse my company, the richer my culture would be.
Culture doesn’t just apply to race or place of origin. It also applies to ways of thinking—conservative or liberal, idealistic or practical. Establishing a corporate culture that is open and transparent means that people are more likely to say what they think. They will come to you with problems. That way you’ll at least know what the problems are. At the end of the day, you don’t have to agree with what other people say or do, you just need to be aware of the fact that their way of thinking may be just as valid as your. From this awareness, you might just find some of the simple concepts related to truth and functionality to be more ambiguous than previously thought. Then you can really start to fix things.