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Going Beyond the Surface: The Need for Decoding Cultural DNA


In today's increasingly complex business environment, a superficial understanding of your organisational culture no longer cuts it. It's akin to only understanding the plot of a novel, but missing out on the rich tapestry of characters, themes, and subplots that truly make the story come alive. This surface-level perspective is problematic, especially when the culture of an organisation significantly impacts on its performance, morale, and adaptability.



The Problem with Surface-Level Understanding

Indeed, numerous organisations often mistakenly confine their understanding of culture to superficial, readily observable elements. These can include shared artifacts like the company's logo or office features like a ping pong table or beanbags, designed to promote a relaxed atmosphere. They might also look at the physical layout of the office, which could be designed to promote collaboration or privacy.


The organisation's dress code, which could range from formal to casual, can also suggest something about its culture. Then there are the stated values - these are the company's declared principles and standards, often documented in mission statements or corporate literature, that guide the organisation's behavior and decision-making.


While these elements certainly form part of the cultural tapestry, they represent just the tip of the iceberg. They are the manifestations of culture that we can see, touch, or read about, but they don't tell us why the culture is the way it is, or what deeply-held beliefs and assumptions drive the behaviors we see. To understand that, we need to dive deeper beneath the surface.


Like an iceberg, the bulk of an organisation's culture lies below the surface. Ignoring this hidden depth can lead to misguided strategies and interventions that fail to address the root cause of cultural issues. They become akin to putting a sticky plaster on a deep wound - it might cover up the problem, but it doesn't heal it.



Decoding Cultural DNA: A Deeper Dive

At Kennedy Insights, we believe that to truly understand and influence an organisation's culture, we need to decode its cultural DNA - those underlying beliefs, assumptions, and values that shape behaviors and attitudes.


Much like genetic DNA, cultural DNA is unique to each organisation, influencing how it responds to challenges, celebrates successes, and plans for the future. By decoding this DNA, we gain insights into the foundational elements of the organisation's culture, enabling us to devise strategies that align with these core aspects.


Our Decoding Cultural DNA Methodology allows us to uncover these unseen elements that drive the visible behaviors and attitudes within an organisation. It's about understanding the 'why' behind the 'what', which is key to crafting strategies and interventions that have a lasting impact.


The Advantage of Decoding Cultural DNA

Going beyond the surface offers several advantages:


Deeper Insights: By decoding the cultural DNA, we uncover the core beliefs and values that drive behaviors, leading to a more nuanced understanding of the organisation's culture.


Strategic Alignment: When strategies and interventions align with an organisation's cultural DNA, they're more likely to be accepted and have a lasting impact.


Sustainable Change: With a deep understanding of the cultural DNA, we can influence the core beliefs and values, leading to sustainable change rather than short-lived shifts in behaviour.


In conclusion, decoding the cultural DNA allows us to venture beneath the surface, offering a comprehensive understanding of an organisation's culture. In a business world that's increasingly recognising the value of a robust organisational culture, this deep dive isn't just advantageous, it's essential. Stay tuned as we explore our Decoding Cultural DNA Methodology in the next blog post, setting the course for a journey beyond the surface.

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