Organizational Culture: So Important – So Misunderstood
We created some new frameworks for the 3rd edition of our book The New Leader's 100-Day Action Plan. One of those is the BRAVE cultural framework. At some level, everyone knows culture is important, but people struggle to define, understand, and influence it. Since we originally created this framework, many have found BRAVE helpful in building shared cultural understanding and action and, of course, continually evolve it. So this post may not match our book exactly.
BRAVE Cultural Framework
BRAVE encapsulates components of culture including the way people Behave, Relate, their Attitude, Values, and the work Environment they create:
Behave: What impact.
- Focus of actions: internal vs. external.
- Discipline or lack thereof with which people act.
- Unit of organization ranging from individual to team.
Relate: How connect.
- Identity of people ranging from sub-groups to one team.
- Communication manner from formal to informal.
- Power control from centralized to diffused.
Attitude: How win.
- Approach to work from disciplined to flexible.
- Posture from proactive to responsive.
- Strategy emphasis from execution to innovation.
Values: What matters.
- Approach to risk from protecting what we've got to being open to risk.
- Learning from directed to collaborative.
- Purpose and the degree to which people are committed to it.
Environment: Where play.
- History and the degree to which it is ignored or sought out.
- Colleagues and the degree to which they are ignored or sought out.
- World view and the degree to which externalities are ignored or sought out.
In the end, a BRAVE culture is one that is ready to change in terms of will and skill.
Applying BRAVE to Onboarding and Leading
BRAVE has application at several onboarding steps.
BRAVE has direct applicability to the "Fit" question: "Can we tolerate working with you?" (One of the only three interview questions.) It is useful to probe interviewees' past Behaviors, experience Relating to colleagues, Attitudes, Values, and work Environments they've created in order to help assess how well they will fit with the organization's current culture and move it in a desireable direction.
When the tables are turned after the offer, BRAVE is applicable to the "Fit" question in reverse. Due Diligence should include a look at organizational Behaviors, experience Relating to colleagues, Attitudes, Values, and the work Environments they've created.
Engaging with the Culture
The learning from Due Diligence flows into how the new leader prepares to engage with that culture during his or her Fuzzy Front End. It's important to look at culture and context at the same time as we describe in our article on culture and context.
We're all about Better Results Faster. "Better" results are BRAVE results, comprised of what is delivered, and the Behaviors, Relationships, Attitudes, Values, and work Environment that underpin how the team works together to deliver those results. Ends and means both count as described in The New Leader's Playbook.
(1) – See Ben Dattner's book, "The Blame Game" for more on this.