What is culture?

A couple of weeks ago, I spoke at a breakfast seminar on the subject “how to culture crash successfully”. Preparing for that presentation I had to define our culture to myself and figure out what the core is in our company spirit. So why is this Narrative team so cheerful, happy and great to work with?

We grew with 100% in 2013, did that once again in 2014 and still we have a great team spirit and great culture, when most research say that with that kind of growth we should rather experience a lot of confusion and undefined cultural values. Don’t forget that we are only 3 years old. A culture takes more than five years to establish. So they say.

I searched for definitions to find what culture really is and found this.

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That is a splendid definition meaning that we create a culture within our own sphere being just the way we are; sometimes different and sometimes very much the same. Building a successful culture and lifestyle in a company is not easy, neither is there any “by the book” rules on how to. Culture is something that just happens. By itself. All the time.

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During my past year at Narrative, I have had the privilege to support our managers in hiring 19 new talents and fantastic colleagues. Above is two of them; Arvid and Dermot. Working with great people is what makes my job the absolute best in the world and I love every second of it. My colleagues are the main reason for that and together we have a great atmosphere.

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To build a culture, you need some solid bricks as base, some partly flexible ones in the middle that can be changed or adjusted if needed, and some highly moveable ones on the top for renewal and changes. The wind and the rain, the sunshine and the heat will be rough on those bricks so to keep the wall together you need to be able to make changes and move the top ones around.

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So the base part in our culture is our  core DNA’s; our values. By letting all Narrativer’s define what our company is and what is stands for we summarized it to TRAILBLAZING, CARING, CHANGE EMBRACING, JOYFUL, PURPOSE-DRIVEN. This sums up the creativity, energy and innovation power in our culture and the Narrative way of doing our thing.

The middle part of the wall is how we act towards each other and act on goals and targets in given situations. It can be adjusted to suit new business goals, market actions or new innovations. In a high tech world you need to move fast, but with that solid ground still there and the goal clearly ahead of you.

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The top then, is the people. With the best crew you don’t want those top ones to be too flexible, but still, when adding a new brick to that top part you need to have the bottom pieces in place, and be humble to the fact that a new brick might cause changes in the top layer.

The success in building a dynamic and flexible culture is to not strive towards shaping all in to the same person. The success is to hire personalities and let them stay personalities. At Narrative, we hire great personalities and want all to spread their individual qualities to our teams. Another success in our culture is that we have embraced the fact that there are differences in a company, we have allowed subcultures to exist and instead we take advantage of all strengths and weaknesses there is in a team. To spice the culture and make sure the team stays as good ad it possibly can, we arrange lots of fun activities and don’t set any limitations to activities that only aim to build team spirit. Even on working hours! I believe that will pay back a hundred times more!

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So the conclusion then; Build a great wall of a solid ground and make sure you know which direction you are moving towards. Let the rest be an automatic system. Last but not least, have lots of fun together!

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