A thought hit me the other day which I will briefly share with you in this post. Read through today’s popular management journals and magazines and you’ll find numerous references to culture and its unique ability to influence quality of work and organizational performance. Take for instance Clayton Christensen’s brilliant portrayal in the widely popular article “How will you measure your life?“:
“Culture, in compelling but unspoken ways, dictates the proven, acceptable methods by which members of the group address recurrent problems. And culture defines the priority given to different types of problems. It can be a powerful management tool.”
What hasn’t been clear, at least to me, are the characteristics of culture in achieving this influence.
If you agree with Clayton – that culture is a mechanism by which individuals prioritize and select ways to tackle recurring problems, then consider that this mechanism is inherently instinctive, not unlike the seemingly innate behaviors that characterize an individual’s unique talents. So while culture and talent are conceptually different (e.g. the former underpinned by values, the latter by genetics), they both appear to promote instinctive and recurrent behaviors. It is these same behaviors that can have a huge influence (i.e. positive or negative) on quality and performance.
*** Notes ***
 In their book, First Break All the Rules, Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman suggest that a focus on talent offers the advantages of a strengths-based hiring approach. One of these advantages is employee engagement, and as Tom Rath, Author of StrengthsFinder 2.0, points out, “People who have the opportunity to focus on their strengths every day are six times as likely to be engaged in their jobs and more than three times as likely to report having and excellent quality life in general”.