A Crisis of Culture

Last month I talked about COVID, leadership and culture. COVID remains a massive crisis. As I write this, there were over 50,000 new cases in the U.S. recorded yesterday, with more than 128,000 dead. The impact on our communities has been devastating. And in the midst of this calamity, there is another crisis, one that is forcing our country to come to terms with a major failure in our culture.

The Black Lives Matter movement: the ongoing protests, police charges, personnel changes, product adjustments and corporate realignment, all shine a light on something we have known about for a long time, and only now seem willing to truly acknowledge: our continuing failure to address the issue of racial equality. There are so many facets to the problem, and solutions will not be easy to identify and implement.

From my perspective, the issue can be illuminated through the lens of “culture.” The culture of this country is in crisis. This is not just a police problem. It is a problem of education, jobs, and health care. It is about our communities. It is about diversity, equity and inclusion. Change must happen. And not just at the top. This is also about what all of us must do as individuals.

Culture is built upon values. If you want to build a certain kind of culture, or you want to rebuild a failing culture, you need the right structure, processes, and people.

You will never change a culture just by talking about the need to change. You must do something, take deliberate action. Make real changes and communicate them — not just once, but repeatedly and consistently. This applies both to senior executives and boards of directors. It applies to our elected leaders.

Part of the solution can be found in collaboration. Collaboration is never easy. You must treat your partner’s success as equal to your own. Race relations in the country would be significantly stronger if the powers that be could embrace that principle.

Now is the time to have different types of conversations, deeper, courageous conversations.

The crises we’re facing provide an opportunity to make positive change. Prioritize and focus on asking hard questions, then listen with greater intent to learn more, to hear people’s voices at all levels of the organization. This will take courage but can yield great results, and help build trust and respect.

I’ve just published a new edition of my booklet, Applied Wisdom for the Nonprofit Sector: Eight Practical Insights for Leaders. I organized my insights and focused on the three pillars of every successful organization: culture, planning, and implementation. With all of the changes surrounding us, now is an opportune time to reevaluate your work around these concepts:

Step 1: Culture: How do you and other people act and interact?
Step 2: Planning: What is your strategy for change?
Step 3: Implementation: How will you execute your strategy?

The importance of step three must never be underestimated: success comes from the implementation of new ideas.

How can you use this framework within your organization and your community?

I invite you to order a complimentary Applied Wisdom print booklet or obtain a digital copy (ebook, PDF or audiobook) here. Please share it with your family, friends and colleagues.

In community spirit,
Jim Morgan