cultures dont grow from talking

In elementary school we all were given a sample of bacteria that we then put in a petri dish for observation.  Our teacher told us that if we put the sample in a certain type of environment that it would grow.  This bacteria was pretty hearty so all it really needed was to be held at a certain temperature.  In a  few days fuzzy stuff started growing around the dish which the teacher told us was the bacteria growing.  After several more days the teacher told us to put the samples in freezing temperatures.  This environment was not good for the bacteria’s growth so in only a few short hours…it died.

First, my bacteria dying did not have a prolonged effect on me in case you were worried.  I only remember the story because I found the whole process very cool.  Mainly because finding ways to make disgusting bacteria grow was fascinating to me when I was a kid (to be honest it still is…I’ll still poke anything disgusting with a stick and say “cooooooollll”).  But that story occurs differently to me after a certain experience at work.  The company I work for spends a lot of time talking about building a great culture.  We measure and evaluate this culture on a regular basis and have meetings to discuss the current state of our culture.  We spend a lot of time talking about the culture.

What have I noticed about all this talking?  More and more the conversation centers around how there are more and more problems with the culture.  The people doing the talking speak to how the culture just isn’t growing.  Then the talking turns to “how are we going to build” the culture?  Then we talk about that for however long.  As you may have guessed all this talking did not get us anywhere.  That’s because great team cultures don’t grow in an environment of “talking”.  Great team cultures grow from an environment of “doing”.  Doing outstanding work that matters and having a team that provides the support needed to do outstanding work is how great team cultures grow.

Just like my simple experiment in elementary school, if you surround your team with a positive work environment that focuses on doing outstanding work the culture will grow.  And it will grow without having to talk about it all the time.

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