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Why and how, not what.

0 min read  |   21 May, 2020   By Jonathan Richards


I hosted a webinar today on resilience and specifically how we prepare our businesses to come out of lockdown with confidence rather than fear.

Part way through, I realised there was something to learn about company culture. We we’re talking about what businesses had done to tackle the impact of lockdown and how we could use that to move forward. But I came to the conclusion that it’s not ‘what’ was done that was important. It was why and how it was done that really mattered.

Culture is about ‘why’ and ‘how’, not ‘what’. If I ask you to adopt a set of values (what) then I need to demonstrate the importance (why) and model the action (how).

Take Breathe’s ‘People First’ value. For you to accept that value I need to explain why – because we want Breathe to be a place where people feel safe to be themselves. Then follow that up with an idea of how – ‘to walk a mile in their shoes’.

There's a popular definition of culture as being ‘how stuff gets done around here’. I now believe that it’s only half the story. Culture is ‘why we do stuff around here and how it gets done’.

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