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Zombie Epidemic, Cultural Clash and Citizen Diplomats

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July 31, 2018

Are You Ready For A Zombie Epidemic?

It’s hard to imagine that we can learn anything about innovation from World War Z, Welcome to Zombieland, and the Walking Dead. But, trust me, there’s a valuable correlation between the rate at which zombies form and cultivating a strong organizational culture.

As our team takes #vcmiseverywhere to new places across the globe, we’re inspired by how the Medellin lives out its culture.

If governmental departments of Social Inclusion (enhancing equity and integration) and Culture (shifting public mindsets toward civic responsibility and positive community cohesion) were not enough, even the transportation authority aspires —  not just to move people from point A to B, but principally to use transit to integrate communities, advance social connectivity and improve individual quality of life .

So this week, we’re exploring: how might we move culture from principle to practice?

For The #Win
Shared values are foundational to a #winning culture.  But, a key indicator of cultural cohesion is when leadership and team members alike begin to “think and act” like owners– when they take personal responsibility for overall business performance, not just their slice of it. Culture is among the few aspects of an organization that impacts every member of the team (not even compensation can boast that reach).  Set the tone with transparency and extend an authentic invitation to all to embed cultural values into our day-to-day actions.

Down the Habit Hole
Many business leaders ascribe to the Peter Drucker school of thought: culture eats strategy for breakfast.  Indeed, 91% of the 1,200 senior executives at global companies agreed that “culture is as important as strategy for business success.” Yet, it’s at the intersection of culture and strategy where impact thrives.

Shifting culture is an exercise in recalibrating mindsets, attitudes — essentially breaking mental habits.  And, it’s hardly an easy task.  Where we often go wrong is in our belief that a cultural evolution can occur overnight.  The reality is that it’s a process, one that we must design with purpose and intention.

Not sure where to start?  Try beginning with a cultural audit by comparing your cultural aspirations vs. culture in practice.

Next, create a plan for alignment by mapping out time-bound and measurable actions steps towards incremental change.  “Culture may be a soft concept, but it is shaped by some hard disciplines, including organization structure, decision rights, talent management systems, and measures and incentives.”

Finally, get creative. If the gap between your aspiration and culture in practice requires a new process, new position, or breaking old systems. Go right ahead, you’ve got permission.  The future of your organization depends on it.  (Just imagine if great culture spread as fast as zombies…)


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