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In 2005, David Foster Wallace addressed the graduating class at Kenyon College with a speech. He began it with a parable:
There are these two young fish swimming along, and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says, “Morning, boys. How’s the water?” And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes, “What the hell is water?
In this interview with Samie Al-Achrafi, he builds on Wallace's story and adds:
Culture is to humans what water is to fish.
It's this mysterious thing “hidden in plain sight” that’s all around us.
Culture drives our behaviour and impacts almost everything that happens in our teams and organisations.
And yet we can rarely define it and are seldom fully aware of it.
In this episode CultureLab Samie and I take a stab at demystifying organisational culture. Here’s just a small sample of the topics we cover:
- what’s Marmalade Fish and why you might want to be one
- how to increase your ability to “see water” - and do something about it
- lessons Samie learnt during his experience as a cultural trainer at Walt Disney World in Florida
- culture blind spots - what they are and how to identify and address them with your team or colleagues
- ways of making culture change more accessible and more successful (hint - it’s all about chunking it up and making small, 1-degree shifts!)
- getting your team’s or organisation’s culture to align with and support your desired outcomes
It would be great to hear your thoughts, so please check out our Facebook page.
Samie and his team created two very useful resources on organisational values and culture and they very generously share them with CultureLab listeners. To download, click on one of the images below.