Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Foundations of Your Culture

CharlieRock asks three questions regarding Key Word development in an organization.


  • How do you institutionalize key words and definitions?
  • How do you extend these key words and definitions to partners and employees?
  • How does it become a seamless part of the corporate knowledge?
  • All of these are great questions. I will focus on the first question today.
  • How do you institutionalize key words definitions?


Everyone knows organizational leaders must define the performance standards, manage to the standard, and provide available resources to support the standards.  To define your organization's key words, leaders must understand how the key words increase clarity for people in support of the organization's standards.  Consequently, leaders have to create standards that enhance communication and action through common understanding.

Here is an example. 

The military is made up of many units which are required to work together to achieve success. Each unit is staffed with people.  One of the first lessons learned in basic training is to line up for formation and be on time.  In the military, if you are late - someone may die.  Consequently, being "on time" has a different connotation - a critical inflexibility that is a crucial foundational understanding of all members of the military.  Part of being squared away in the military is being on time with the proper uniform and equipment for the day.  It's part of the culture.  All military members understand the importance of "being on time."

Leaders must always start with themselves.  Ask yourself the hard questions.


  • Do you know what it would take to be great? or good? or a market leader? or whatever definition is important to you.
  • Do you know the elements for success that must exist in your organization to give it the best chance to succeed?
  • Can you define key words that provide clarity for team members on a daily basis which enhances individual and organizational performance?
  • Where are the patterns of communication breakdown that hamper your team's performance?


Get your team together and ask each other these questions.  Create common performance standards that can be defined as key words as a group.  This kind of clarity will enhance accountability, speed, and adaptability in your team.

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