The Way We Do Things Around Here

Those seven words are famous. You hear them all the time. Churches, businesses, organizations,families, doesn't matter where. They pop up especially when someone has behaved in a manner out of alignment with "The Way".

"The Way" is culture. The Way embodies all of the unstated assumptions that have become accepted over time. I'm interested in understanding organization's cultures. I, like most folks, want to fit in. I don't want to look silly. I want to look like I belong. And so, I observe. I watch the ways everybody else comports themselves and I try to fit in, until its time to do otherwise.

The problem with culture is that its generally unstated. It's assumed you know the proper way until you cross one or more of the invisible lines. Then its brought to your attention that "we" don't behave that way and if you want to be one of "us", you won't either.

Culture has great value. It unites people. When you know the secret handshake it gives you the comfort of being one of the insiders. The problem with culture is its exclusive by nature. Because until you figure out the rules, you are an outsider.

I have an even greater interest in values, particularly stated values. Because when people are clear about an organization's values they don't have to guess about "The Way". The Way is clear.

The only problem with stating your values is when you don't behave according to them. Then anyone can see when you're behaving hypocritically. Still, if your stated values are truly the values by which you wish to live your life; then you won't mind when people draw your attention to your inadvertent deviations.

Then you can acknowledge your mistake and try again tomorrow. After all isn't that they way you wish things were done around here. Wherever your "here" is.