Focus on Style if you Want to Manage Culture


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“What is the (corporate) culture of your organization? Can you give me the outline by tomorrow?" Yesterday, for the first time since very long ago, I jumped in a teleconference call. As previous experiences with (oversees) conference calls, I realized the importance of culture and cultural differences.

When I was in New York last year, I had forgotten to bring toothpaste and I was to buy it at a grocery store. Being Dutch and in a hurry, I bought the cheapest one which showed 99 cents on the price tag. Once I arrived at the counter I found out that the price was excluding taxes. So I finally had to pay 1 $ and 7 cents. Or eight.

That incidence taught me many things about the American culture and about my Dutch and European background. Amongst others it made me realize the strength of this “American way" Also the combination “show-time" has no equivalent in other languages. I admire the way the American sales-process takes place. But I admire the European way for different reasons.

The thing is that focusing on “this way" of doing things, of organizing is very powerful. The term Style is just doing that. It focuses on the way and manner in which you approach life. Style gives you a direction. It is dynamic. It’s driving you somewhere. Culture is a much more static word. Something that you cannot move, turn or bend.

Then what you need to do is communicate the desired style. What approach do you want in life? If you go to the hairdressers, you can experience the possible coups to choose from.

Style and the way we act is omnipresent. Differences within one organization can be as big or small as differences between countries. As a manager you should – in line with the rest of the organization – focus on style. Focus on the way you want to approach things. It would be an important step in managing culture.

© 2005 Hans Bool / Astor White

Astor White . Committed to your management issues. On a distance.


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