We often encounter a common question about the rationale behind prioritizing foundational elements in our organizational culture model.

Why the emphasis on the foundation first?

The answer is fairly simple – while other aspects of the model hold immense significance, the foundation’s strength determines the overall effectiveness of your investment. Without a robust foundation, your return on investment may not be optimized even if you excel in other areas.

Let’s consider a scenario to understand this better.

We often have teams approaching us, asserting their proficiency in team-building activities – having fun at baseball games or participating in other bonding exercises. However, they might be lacking in crucial areas like accountability or trust.

Excelling in one aspect while neglecting others doesn’t suffice; weaker aspects can overshadow your hard-earned strengths, and it can seem like you’re running in place.

The crux of the issue lies in the lack of sufficient focus on other foundational elements. These elements can undermine the strength of the cultural components you’re diligently working on.

Another essential thing to note about foundational elements – and this can sometimes be a tough pill to swallow for leadership teams – is that the work on them is never complete. For instance, you can have a robust mentoring program or a comprehensive career and personal development plan. These initiatives can be established and then continually improved. But with foundational elements like clarity of vision, inspiring purpose, or trust, it’s a different story.

Whenever there’s a change in the organization, such as when someone leaves or a new leader steps in, these foundational elements are impacted.

It’s a common occurrence to revisit these building blocks. We have clients we’ve been assisting for several years who initially had robust foundations. However, changes in the business – a merger, an acquisition, or a significant leadership shift – necessitated a reassessment of those foundational elements.

Remember, changes in your foundation don’t indicate a flaw. They merely reflect your growing awareness of the dynamics of organizational change. Such changes are likely to shift your culture’s foundation, adjusting the impact your organization can have. Therefore, it’s crucial to always keep an eye on the foundational aspects and enhance your organization using the other building blocks in the model.

As the saying goes, “a building is only as strong as its foundation” – the same applies to your organization’s culture.

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