Is Your Culture Hard-Wired for Performance or a Catalyst for Dysfunction?

<Rant Warning>

Here’s an icebreaker for the next C-suite pow-wow in your organization. With all the CXO roles present around the table, and each having a single sheet of paper, ask them to complete this sentence with one or two words. “I would characterize our organization as one operating in a culture of ___________.” Have each put their answers on the paper…no cheating…no cross-conversation…no looking at your neighbor’s answer…fold the sheet in half and pass it to the “C” person on their left. Then have each person read aloud what’s on the sheet they’re holding. Do their answers match? What’s the reaction? Does anyone blow spit bubbles?

If answers do not match there may be evidence of dysfunction, and we’re not even out of the high carpet of the board room. What are the chances direct reports of each “C” discipline around the table will be any different? If I ever got the chance to do this little exercise, I’d take it down through the organization at peer level management layers and capture the answers. Methinks dysfunction would prevail…at least with what everyone thinks about their culture. And if culture is dysfunctional…???

I applaud any organization who creates or maintains a Learning Culture; however, they earn a golf clap. You know the kind of polite clapping I’m referencing…nice shot to the green…[clap, clap, clap]…and good luck with the fifty-foot, downhill, two-break putt.

Learning Culture is a great shot to the green, but I have to ask, “Why not a Performance Culture?” Why stop at “learning” when achieving measurable business value is the ultimate end-game of a Dynamic Learning Performance Ecosystem? Learning obviously puts us on the green, but we’re still not in the hole and nothing makes it to the score card simply by reaching the green.

I think we sell ourselves and our organization’s mission short…by stopping short. I’d not say we’re short intentionally, but there is a dysfunction afoot if we think learning is going to drive performance when it can only deliver potential. How does L&D fall short while living in a Learning Culture? We do an excellent job of delivering top-drawer learning solutions, but what about the Performance after the events?

A Performance Culture takes a holistic approach to addressing the entire learning performance continuum from initial learning opportunities to “sinking the putt” by resolving moments of need seamlessly, frictionlessly, and ubiquitously at the Point-of-Work. That approach represents a cultural shift…a transformational change for many…a few tweaks and a nudge for others.

You may wonder why I bundled a C-suite culture example with adoption of a Performance Culture shift to Point-of-Work. Doesn’t Point-of-Work live at the “other-end-of-the-food-chain-hierarchy”? Yes, it does…down in the weeds…nestled right alongside profitability.

Quite simply, the Point-of-Work Discipline is a cultural shift…and cultural shifts often imply transformational change…and transformational change initiatives require C-suite executive sponsors. We’re talking true sponsors here, not just figureheads, but accessible, visible, respected, and engaged executives willing to shepherd “Change” communications down through the organization in an initiative to untangle dysfunction mired in outdated paradigms. This sponsor should actively embrace a strategic re-think grounded and hard-wired to enable L&D to accelerate productivity across the workforce at every Point-of-Work. Then we can head to the club house…

</Rant Warning>

Thanks for reading, and as always, if comments or ideas, please share. If questions or clarifications are needed, just ping me.

Take good care!


Gary G. Wise
Workforce Performance Advocate, Coach, Speaker 
(317) 437-2555
Web: Living In Learning