Sat, Sep 22, 2018

Storytelling, Rituals, and Artifacts

When it comes to defining, creating and living your culture nothing beats the things we have been doing for millennia. Ever since we started communicating, we relayed knowledge through a story, created rituals to embody and remind ourselves of those stories and used artifacts as a physical object to further cement those stories and rituals in our own culture.

Businesses, in many ways, are nothing but a bunch of people forming a tribe – with a particular purpose. As such, we are – and will always be – human and thus react to (and need) human-level communication.

It is not about that cool new Slack-Bot reminding everyone about the company values when the right keyword is triggered. Neither is it about the intellectual debate and the “reading of the tea leaves” whenever the great leader opens his mouth. Culture comes down to the most fundamental human communications: Stories which get reinforced by rituals and artifacts.

The next time you walk into any companies’ office look at the lobby, the hallway walls, and offices – what you see are artifacts. Also, they say a ton about the company. All nice and clean with some modern abstract art? Or a trophy collection of failed early prototypes? Alternatively, maybe a collection of letters from customers mixed with pictures from the last company BBQ?

Observe not only what but also how the leader speaks. Is it an MBA-trained, polished bullshit bingo-worthy blah or does it come from the heart and involves real people?

When you are out there building your company or team (or work in one) – pay attention to these three factors, play with them and start telling stories, create rituals and collect artifacts. It is the best way I know to create a robust and living culture.

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