Culture in business: too thick or too thin

ph: CultureBy - Grant McCracken

A compelling piece (“This morning Twitter kissed culture hard on the mouth”)by Grant McCracken [link here] about the state of culture in business.

[…] we have all struggled to put the culture idea on the agenda. People give it lip service, but when it comes to hiring people to supply cultural intelligence, not so much.

I see a lot of really big talents languishing for want of a more sophisticated approach. Culture is always and everywhere in the work of the creative, strategic, design, digital, innovation, social, marketing, content creator and curator. But it is almost never acknowledged as such. AND THAT MEANS THE PERSON WHO IS HELPING THE ORGANIZATION CONNECT TO CULTURE IS NOT GETTING THEIR DUE.

After work, everyone, including senior managers, goes to the bar and talks about culture. They talk about what they are watching on Netflix, and this is entirely cultural because a Netflix show cannot matter unless it resonates with something in us and that cannot happen unless the show resonates with something in our culture. But back on the job, the senior managers forget this. It’s back to business as usual. It’s back to business without culture.

In corporate practice, culture is either too thick or too thin. Culture is either built into marketing monoliths (the German market, Asian customers, the American pattern of consumption). Or it is flattened into convenient trends-cracking keywords, without any context.

And when markets and people show some unexpected behaviours, companies and brands suddenly realize they are unable to deliver relevant value. They get stuck between thick and thin.

Culture is the way human beings work, and give meanings to their reality. Some meanings consolidate into habits or become mainstream, some others just fades away with time. Business value stems from the ability to go beyond thick and thin, and to embrace cultural complexity and dynamism.