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11 Jun 2015

Culture metrics

Over on Entrepreneur e-zine, serial company founder Greg Besner recommends the following ten metrics concerning organization's culture
  1. Communication
  2. Innovation
  3. Agility
  4. Wellness
  5. Environment
  6. Collaboration
  7. Support
  8. Performance focus
  9. Responsibility
  10. Mission and value alignment
OK, but why did he pick those ten parameters to measure over all the others? What makes them special?

In the article, Greg briefly explains his ten metrics in terms that make it clear why he thinks they are important. The trouble is, with just a moment's thought, I can easily come up with another ten, complete with my reasons for measuring them ... and I guess you too could come up with your self-justified list of ten culture metrics ... and so could anyone else with enough interest and expertise in this area ...

I guess right now you are puzzling over Greg's list, wondering about mine, and thinking about what else might be measured. Furthermore, I bet you are forming opinions about 'culture metrics' swimming around in your head, liking some, disliking others ... 

... and yet we haven't even attempted to reach agreement on a definition of "culture" at this point.

Ah, oh, yes.

And furthermore, who said there had to be ten anyway? What's wrong with one, or three, or fifty seven?

My point is that it's arbitrary. My choice of metrics - their number and their nature - almost certainly differs materially from yours. Both of us can justify our choices. Greg might feel compelled to defend his choice of ten. Given sufficient spare time and an ample supply of our favorite beverages, I'm sure we could have discussed cultural metrics for hours between us but somehow I doubt we would reach a consensus, for various reasons, not the least of which is that, in regard to metrics, context matters. The cultural metrics that suit, say, a hi-tech start-up are likely to be different to those chosen by a government department, or an oil company, or a school.  Any one of those organizations may choose different cultural metrics as it matures. Things that happen to be in vogue today may well change tomorrow, next week, next year or whatever (remember Peters & Waterman's "In search of Excellence"? For a while, we obsessed about the characteristics that the book identified in excellent companies, but before long we realized there were many other important parameters too, and even Tom himself backtracked in his later books).

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