The tech industry is coming to the realization that taking care of people and building a culture that sustains and develops them is a key to improving employee performance and productivity. Ignore the people that are doing work for you and they will go away.

“We’ve seen it unfold in a series of media-fueled dramas in the tech industry. From the scathing Amazon exposé in 2015 to Uber’s recent string of PR scandals, the importance of a people-focused company culture is now rising in the ranks. Things like employee well-being, diversity and inclusion are fast becoming a priority, and this is reflected in the rise of a number of new, hyper people-focused roles within the tech industry.”

— Iris Leung, “The Tech Industry Is Getting Very People and Culture Focused, Here’s Why”, August 5, 2017, Forbes

People are talking about culture:

Want To Check The Pulse Of Your Company Culture? Here’s What To Ask  (Forbes)

Why Leaders Should Rethink a Business Culture in Which Everyone Is Always ‘Busy’    (Entrepreneur)

Why the CEO of Basecamp only allows employees to work 32 hours a week  (CNBC)

How Corporate Culture Can Affect Innovation and Corporate Success  (HuffPost)

A CHRO Sheds Light on Blending Tech Cultures Post-acquisition  (Workforce)

What does culture mean?

The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) defines culture as:

  1. The arts and other manifestations of human intellectual achievement regarded collectively.
  2. The ideas, customs, and social behavior of a particular people or society.
  3. The cultivation of bacteria, tissue cells, etc. in an artificial medium containing nutrients.
  4. The cultivation of plants.

Additionally, the OED describes the origin of the word:

“Middle English (denoting a cultivated piece of land): the noun from French culture or directly from Latin cultura ‘growing, cultivation’; the verb from obsolete French culturer or medieval Latin culturare, both based on Latin colere ‘tend, cultivate’ (see cultivate). In late Middle English the sense was ‘cultivation of the soil’ and from this (early 16th century), arose ‘cultivation (of the mind, faculties, or manners’); culture (sense 1 of the noun) dates from the early 19th century.”

— Oxford English Dictionary

My sense is that culture is something to be nurtured, or as the OED describes, cultivated. Culture isn’t something that appears spontaneously, but develops over time as people interact with each other. It also evolves as the needs of the organization change.

The future of culture depends on how people choose to interact with one another. As organizational structures flatten and traditional power structures dissolve, new forms will emerge that reflect how we connect to the people, customers, businesses, or institutions with which we relate.

How will the organizations of the present inform how our culture will evolve into the future?

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