Shifting and Sustaining Your Organizational Culture


“What is essential is invisible to the eye. It is only with the heart that one can truly see.”
― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince

We are currently in the selection process of hiring Vitalia Consulting “Organizational Leadership Consultants” for new client projects, and expanding our global consultant network.Making final decisions before the Thanksgiving Holiday caused me to think about the things that matter most and to reflect on one particular consultant “exploratory meeting discussion.”

While I remain mesmerized by the vast array of multi-disciplinary talent available in today’s job market, and the many memorable meeting conversations, this potential Vitalia Consultant was talking about hot corporate America business “sustainability” initiatives (in the familiar context this word is expressed).

When I think back to that discussion, it still resonates with me. It stimulates questions in search of answers. Why is “sustainability” not directly applied to shifting organizational culture so that it’s in alignment with business vision and strategy?

Ask Yourself: What self-limiting beliefs, values, norms are holding you and your company back from achieving and sustaining the organizational culture you envision? You know, the culture you dream about when no one else is around. 

With the holiday season suddenly upon us, unless you’re in pre-school making paper turkeys traced from your hands, I doubt that many of us are talking about the pilgrims, Native Americans, Plymouth Rock or the first Thanksgiving meal.

In fact, in the last few years, I’ve noticed that almost no one commemorates or celebrates the true spirit of Thanksgiving, the act of giving thanks. The act of giving thanks before devouring our bountiful meals. Most people don’t seem to care about why they’re given time-off to celebrate Thanksgiving. We get lost in reminiscing about Uncle Albert and Auntie Grizelda. As much as I love sports, wagering on the almost always boring Thanksgiving Day NFL games has replaced the tradition of being thankful for what matters most in life: cherished family, friends, neighbors, and other loved ones (present and past). Les Petits Cadeaux.

Thanksgiving Day traditions are now mainly reserved for the wonderment of children, the sentimental reflections of ages past, and maintaining USA status as the #1 obese nation in the world. USA! USA! USA!

So, how can you sustain the best of your organization’s cultural values, beliefs, norms, and traditions?  Like the spirit of Christmastime, you must believe. Are you willing to examine the culture of your organization? Start by observing your organization more, listening more to what your people are telling you (in their words and actions, in their silence). Practice radical acceptance rather than conservative complacence.

Is it possible that gratitude and appreciation can sustain what is great (the best of the best) about your organizational culture? What would a cultural assessment reveal about your company? What’s working in your company? What’s enabled your company to achieve its success? What are you proud of? What are you unwilling to sacrifice? Whatever it is, don’t let go of it! You’ll lament what’s lost.   

After all, business culture celebrates the greatest products ever made, the newest and most efficient service, launching the newly re-designed website, closing the big deal, the best-selling book based on closing the big deal, acquisitions and mergers, the most brilliant software, promotions and successions, the greatest technology you’ve experienced just nanoseconds ago. Now, it’s time to unveil your new and improved organizational culture.

If you are an Enlightened Leader, then you believe that you are defined by what you do. This is where Emotional Intelligence, having a High EQ, comes into play for Enlightened Leaders. Gratitude and appreciation are inherent within your being.

As an Enlightened Leader: What if “Giving Thanks” became a cultural norm within your company? Pequenos Regalos. How might people perceive and experience you and your company differently? Partners? Employees? Customers/Clients? Suppliers? The Marketplace? How might their experience of themselves be different? How might their effect their performance be different?

Go beyond seeing and treating human beings as talent acquisitions, as the #1 corporate capital asset. Go beyond philosophical posters, policies and procedures. Let’s hear less talk. Let’s see more action! This is not about a holiday, or being politically correct. It’s about “being thankful” throughout the years.

Remember: You do it of your own volition.

Move toward “being genuinely thankful” for the people who contribute everyday to the success of your business. Make “being genuinely thankful” a sustainable part of your organizational culture. Consider what matters most to you.

While you can interpret this message as far too simplistic, remember that the wheel was one of the greatest discoveries by humankind. Shifting organizational culture is much harder to do. To make giving thanks a cultural value, you must sincerely believe in “Thanksgiving” in your heart and soul. It must be within you. It must be authentic to everyone within your organization. This is not an intellectual exercise or debate.

Every gap analysis tells the same story: Those companies who align organizational culture with business vision and strategy are 6X more successful than those companies who ignore organization/business alignment, 6X more successful than their competition.

Learn to celebrate every one of us, we the people who directly contribute to the success of your business. The sustainability of cultural values, beliefs, and norms should be a business imperative.

Nurture your organization to sustain “high business growth.” There are plenty of “Change Gurus” everywhere. This time around, try focusing on shifting and sustaining your organizational culture. Keep what’s good. Add what’s better.

As for me, I am genuinely thankful for my family, friends, and other loved ones in my life, in my memories. I am genuinely thankful for all of the professional consultants, colleagues, and valued clients who partner with Vitalia Consulting. Like a group of musicians creating magnificent music, making music that matters, I am genuinely thankful for the collaborative organizational solutions that we create together. I am extremely grateful for having had the opportunity to meet and work with some of the most amazing human beings on this planet. Look around you. We are surrounded by the brilliance of other people. It is time to celebrate being together because (as you know) things change.

In our prior blog “The Ethos of Leadership” we discussed the alignment of behavior, thought, feeling = Enlightened Leadership. It’s a parallel process. Aligning organizational culture with business vision + strategy = success

Let’s look into ourselves. What can we thank ourselves for? How can we give someone else that same feeling and experience? Let’s count our blessings, and stop complaining about the weather, or whether or not.

We are Vitalia Consulting. We are Awakeners! Piccoli Regali.

Marc Ortiz de Candia, Executive Partner, Vitalia Consulting