In his book The Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups, Daniel Coyle begins with the question, “Why do certain groups add up to be greater than the sum of their parts, while others add up to be less?” and emphasizes the specific set of skills successful cultures use and the achievements of the leaders who play a crucial role in their formation. These skills form the structure of this book, as follows:
1. Building Safety explores how signals of connection generate bonds of belonging and identity.
Building safety is a fluid, improvisational skill and it is learnable. To be able to recognize patterns, react quickly, and deliver the right signal at the right time is at the base of building safety as part of organizational culture. Having such competencies requires certain bare necessities:
- Listening: In a successful culture everyone has a voice, and everyone is heard.
- Feedback: Encouraging people to give clear, necessary feedback is crucial in making people feel safe in an organization.
- Appreciation: It is crucial to be generous and show appreciation for success.
- Collision: Creating common spaces to maximize collision.
- A Togetherness Statement: Expressing the message “We are all in this together” is important not only verbally, but also with actions like non-hierarchical distribution of daily tasks.
- Fun: Embracing fun is not only about enjoyment; it is the most fundamental sign of safety and connection.
- Cycle: A safety cycle begins with the hiring process and maintains itself throughout the organization.
2. Sharing Vulnerability explains how habits of mutual risk drive trusting cooperation.
Forming habits surrounding group vulnerability paves the way for cooperation and enables people to perform at their best. Achieving such an approach requires time, willingness, repetition, and planning.
- Building and sharing cooperative culture begins with the leader. When the leaders express their vulnerabilities, their teams consolidate their importance in the group and their determination to achieve as part of the group.
- Clarifying and over-communicating expectation encourages people to maximize on those expectations to deliver tangible results, either as individuals or in groups.
- Following the group dynamic is essential to maintaining culture. Moments of conflict are especially valuable in understanding whether people are empathizing with or blaming others.
- Listening is the most important part of group dynamics. If people are effectively listening to each other, the more likely they are to foster cooperation among them.
- Using flash mentoring and offering spontaneous initiatives will help people reveal their potential and support loyalty within a group.
3. Establishing Purpose tells how narratives create shared goals and values.
Successful cultures can navigate their problems and challenges altogether and this is a result of a well-defined and well-understood purpose. To be able to identify and extend purpose culture-wide, a company must:
- Name, rank and clarify their priorities
- Communicate these well-defined priorities and define the measurement criteria for success
- Lead the team effectively according to skill and performance expectations
- Spotlight a single major task to define cultural identity and set it as a bond for the people who are underlying the purpose
In short, culture is learned, shaped, and modified continuously. All you need is effort, hard work, and devoted determination from all parts of your organization to succeed.