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Is Your Culture By Accident or Is It By Design?

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Chris StevensonChris Stevenson

When it comes to organizational success, few elements are as influential as culture. I've have presented a lot on this topic, and it is one of my favorites because it has such a big impact on an organization's success. I am always excited to learn more, which is why I decided to read David Friedman's "Culture by Design." In his book, Friedman presents a compelling argument for actively designing and nurturing culture within an organization. As an avid reader, I found this book to be a valuable resource, although it didn't necessarily unveil groundbreaking concepts. Instead, it offers solid takeaways and practical examples that can significantly impact how leaders approach culture within their organizations. Here are Five Key Takeaways:

  • Intentional Culture Creation: Friedman's book challenges the passive conception of culture development, advocating for a hands-on approach in its design and implementation. He outlines specific steps for leaders to take charge of their organizational culture, emphasizing the importance of proactivity over passivity.
  • Practical Frameworks for Action: The book provides actionable strategies, starting with the foundational steps of identifying core values and purpose. This structured approach can serve as a blueprint for leaders looking to drive cultural change. Friedman's emphasis on practicality ensures that leaders have clear, actionable steps to follow.
  • Leadership's Pivotal Role: Friedman underlines the critical influence of leadership in shaping and upholding a desired culture. He offers practical advice on how leaders can embody the cultural values they seek to instill in their teams. Through anecdotes and expert insights, he illustrates the profound impact leadership behavior has on overall cultural development.
  • Inclusivity as a Core Value: The book emphasizes the importance of inclusivity within organizational culture. Friedman contends that a well-designed culture actively embraces diversity, offering guidance on creating an environment that values and leverages differences. He provides specific strategies for fostering inclusivity, ensuring that diversity becomes a driving force for innovation and productivity.
  • Real-world Applications: Through a variety of case studies across industries, Friedman substantiates his arguments, demonstrating how intentional culture design has led to tangible positive outcomes. These real-world examples offer a tangible roadmap for readers, showcasing how cultural principles can be applied in diverse organizational settings.

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"Culture by Design" is worth reading. It is a short and easy read with some good takeaways. As I mentioned earlier, it didn't introduce revolutionary ideas, but it offers solid, actionable takeaways and provides practical examples that make it easy to understand. For leaders seeking to create purposeful and impactful organizational cultures, which they all should be, this book is a worthwhile read.

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