Protect Your Culture Not Your Ego

When it comes to the culture of your organization or even your home two words—and the difference—couldn’t be more important: “insulated” vs. “insular”.

Protecting your culture is serious business. It takes a very short amount of time and just a pinch of apathy to send all your hard work into a tail-spin.

Insulation Protects Culture

insulate (verb) protect (someone or something) from unpleasant influences or experiences

One of the first questions that comes up when a new hire is considered is “Will he or she be a good fit?” Sure, consideration may be given to team chemistry. The real question is whether or not the new hire can uphold the cultural standards of the organization.

You’ve got to insulate your culture against outside influence. Do this by reinforcing your brand in all you do. Reference it in your decisions. Allow it to drive your interactions. Pack it in tight to cover any cracks. Put something between you and the outside.

Insulate your culture with good people and great training.

Insular Cultures are Doomed

insular (adjective) ignorant of or lacking interest in cultures, ideas, or peoples outside one’s own experience

I know a great business operator who ferociously protects the culture of his organization. I don’t blame him. It’s a great business! His culture—and yours—needs a guardian.

Some business owners and leaders, though, completely isolate themselves. They don’t see value in participating in community organizations like Rotary or the Chamber of Commerce. Fueled by ego that has been buoyed by success, they eschew professional organizations.

They think they’ve got nothing to learn.

Protect your culture—but never think you’re the only one with great ideas. An insular culture is designed to protect but ends up preventing innovation. This attitude tends to bleed into the business leader’s personality.

Balanced cultures are insulated against culture erosion but allow for innovation to spring from fertile ground.

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Have Your Say

How do you protect your culture? When is the last time a great idea came from outside your organization? Please join the discussion.

Creative Commons image courtesy Francisco Martins.