By: Lorenzo Agnes
A look of surprise, quickly followed by a sheepishly smiling attempt at showing understanding (often with head rapidly bobbing up and down) is a fairly typical response at my reply, “I’m our company culturalist,” to people asking what my job is at Dussault Group. And I fully understand their response – after all, it isn’t something you hear every day. For some CEO’s though, their response has been, “Man, I wish I had hired a Culturalist 20 years ago!”
I work for a highly innovative, dynamic, accomplished and successful entrepreneur, the CEO of Dussault Group, David Dussault. As long as I have known him, he has always been at the cutting edge of emerging business trends, and David saw the significant role Good Culture plays in an organization years before his peers did. When David asked me nearly a year ago to join the leadership team of his manufacturing Company, P1 Industries, he didn’t ask for a resume, have me go through interviews, or follow any of the traditional routes for a new hire. Instead, David said to me, “I want you to take your culture creating abilities and implement them throughout our company.” Now, one could argue that this isn’t exactly the wisest way to hire somebody and could even be considered a reckless move. The fact is that we have known each other for many years and David has witnessed my journey of building culture in both local and global settings. I am happy to say it was not only the right move, but also an important one for the company, for David and for me. Allow me to explain.
The truth is that every day of our lives, each of us in constantly living in what I like to call “atmospheres of culture”. We have a culture in our homes; at our offices; in our after work gymnasium; at the coffee shop we frequent, etc. You get the idea. Whether intentionally created or not, everywhere we are has a culture of its own. Once we acknowledge and understand this reality, it forces us to choose whether we will consciously and intentionally work at creating and shaping our culture or allow ourselves to be shaped by it. Culture is everywhere, all the time, and it powerfully affects our moods, relationships, productivity and feeling of significance.
You may already be thinking, “Lorenzo, I have no idea what you’re rambling on about. Who even thinks about these things?” Well, the truth is that there are some of us whose main concern in life is to constantly be thinking about these things. We are the Culturalists. We love it when people frown at the word, scratching their heads wondering if they should call the psyche ward to come fetch us. And we thinks it’s so cool when people say things like, “But culture is so .. so … intangible, and subjective, and … is it really necessary?” Because of course we know the answers to these questions and concerns! We know that culture is constantly all around us, like the atmosphere, and we know it is very tangible, and objective – and yes, subjective too – and extremely necessary. And very, very powerful. We understand that, in fact, in the majority of cases, culture is the determining factor in whether a company, community or even a nation succeeds or fails.
So why do some CEO’s wish they had hired a full time Culturalist 20 years ago? Why does David employ me in this position in his company? They get where the world lives today and understand that having great culture in your workplace is essential to true fruitfulness and success. Never before in the history of the world has there been such a free flow of knowledge, technologies, experiences and information. This massive exchange, at super high speed, with constant change being the norm, has necessitated that those wanting to be fruitful in life and in their work need to be able to properly and powerfully connect with others unlike themselves, on a regular basis. We work in offices filled with people from various continents, with varied skill sets, across varied age ranges. What is it that enables all these variables to flow together in harmony, with integrity and fruitfulness, instead of producing misunderstanding, conflict and even animosity? Good Culture. Healthy, intentionally designed and implemented atmospheres. Intangibly tangible, invisibly visible, untouchably touchable, culture is the Glue that binds a company together. With it, unity and singleness of purpose are almost guaranteed. Without it, failure or lack of best practices is sure to result. This is what what we Culturalists do – we make and spread the Glue.
Hopefully I’ve explained a little of the huge need for Good Culture. In my next post, I’ll talk about the Glue and explain how to make it, spread it, and live in it.