Culture is misunderstood.

I was recently writing some content for a marketing piece and went on a quest to find a consistent definition of Culture. I was not disappointed for lack of options.  The Google gave me 267 results before it tapped out. Each result more varied than the next. 

Similarly, in many of my recent conversations, the definition of culture is even more varied. 

“Culture is happy hours and lunch get togethers.” 
“Culture is how people feel about the company”
“Culture is how people behave when no one is looking”  

None of these are inherently wrong, yet they all lack something (some certainly more than others).  Even good definitions of the word seem like they need another paragraph or two to really explain what Culture is. Then it’s no surprise that given the lack of uniform definition, that a word could be misunderstood.  And unfortunately, when something is misunderstood, it is often ignored or takes a back seat to known quantities. Known quantities like profit, revenue goals, and expense cutting.

If you’re on the edge of your seat waiting for me to settle the confusion around the definition of Culture, I am likely to disappoint. Why? Because Culture is too many things to be defined in simple terms. It’s like DNA. The average person knows DNA is this mystical, complex structure that determines an inordinate amount of characteristics about ourselves as individuals. Yet the definition itself tells me little to nothing about the specifics of those characteristics. Culture is like that.  

But if I had to give a simple definition, the current version I prefer most is:

Culture, stated or unstated, is the acceptable or unacceptable behaviors within the business.

Culture gets created on purpose or by accident.  There are a great deal of companies that claim to have great Cultures but don’t really, and vice versa. The more I’m going down the path of working to help others grow their businesses, the more I’m convinced the best mechanism for growth is creating Cultures that are people centric, Purpose minded, and value driven for ALL stakeholders.  

How do you define Culture?


“The Backboard” 
Growth and Culture Advisor

In the News

Some recent showings in the media:

Late Night Internet Marketing Podcast

iHeart Radio Spot on Side Hustles

Helpful Content

Great read about the components and how to create a good Culture.

Dan Coyle’s “The Culture Code”