The "C" word. Yep, culture. Haunts so many of our efforts. Often it's like a specter hanging over failed projects - "the culture wasn't prepared to accept that technology." We talk about it's importance and about having the right one and about disruptive ones and innovation ones but I think we need to be a bit more basic up front.
The first thing you need to understand about organizational culture is that you already have one. No one has to be tasked with creating a culture - it just happens when humans start doing that human thing and organizaing in groups. So let's begin with dropping the idea that you're going to create a culture that's going to fill a vacuum. Whatever cultural effort you undertake, know that if will be one that seeks to shape an existing culture or replace one - both are much different than starting with a blank slate....which you're not...unless you're doing a startup...that's a different post entirely.
The second thing is that changing a culture or consciously shaping a new one is a LONG TERM EFFORT. This is not a "let's measure the delta between Q1 and Q2" kind of exercise. Periodic reviews are helpful and needed to make sure that a consistent effort is maintained but this will be a year over year effort. Shaping a culture will also impact every system you have and every decision that gets made in the organization. Hiring, onboarding, pay, operations, comunications, marketing...think of an area of the organization and it'll be impacted.
I don't know if I hit that last point hard enough. When we're talking "culture" - we're not talking about hanging up Successories pictures around the office about how great teamwork is or how important leadership is. We are talking about building a cntral core of values and beliefs that everyone in the organization knows and understands and against which they will judge the decisions they make every day - both big and small.
You also need to understand that the more successful your efforts are at creating the culture you want, the more obivous deviations from the new cultural norms will become. You need to be ready to recognize both the positive deviations - those people who go above and beyond the norm and you need to be ready to punish the negative deviations. Fail on either of those points and your culture starts to become a pale, 2D thing closer to a sterotypical mission statement than a set of values that you can order your organizational life by.
Let's recap - it's a long effort. It will effect everything. It has to be consistently adhered to.....two more points...
First - it's worth it. Done right, an organizational culture can be a bulwark against tough times and can be a slingshot past competitors in good ones. It can be an engine of innovation and collaboration and can empower people at all levels of the org., to affect positive change. Second, the end goal is definitely for everybody to "own it" - I've known lots of Marines in my life and every single one of them can tell me what it means to be a Marine they also know that ownership of that culture, the maintennance of it, is the responsibility of every member. That being said, the Marines have had a long time to cultivate that and they did start from scratch, chances are you're facing a different challenge.
To respond to that challenge, I think someone will need to "own" - explicitly - a cultural change effort. When you think about who will own it, who will shepherd it through the early days, think about the cultural values you're aiming for - if you're trying to have a more open and transparent culture, then the process of creating that should be what? Yep, open and transparent. Want a culture that makes people at all levels feel that they have input? Then guess what? Start by letting them all have input into this process. What a powerful moment in the creation of a culture when the CEO sits down at the table with a line worker and they both have input. Look for those moments when you can demonstrate the culture that you're aiming for...those moments become stories and those stories get passed along and they reinforce cultures in ways that nothing else can. So yeah, "owning" the culure will be a temp job (if you do it right) but it's an important temp job.