Designing An Authentic Work Culture (Part 2: Discover)
Creating an authentic, homogenous, and sustainable work culture can take years. This three part series outlines our experiences and learnings in this aspirational journey at #NammaStudio. Often, defining your work culture requires you to first identify what your culture is not. The first part of this series talks about how you can peel away the exterior layers of work life that often get mistaken for culture. The second part focuses on elements that are invariables to the existence of your organization and thus provide a tangible framework for work culture. Lastly, the third part in this series highlights practical examples of choices, actions, and habits in our day-to-day work life to transform culture from being a noun into an action verb. Throughout the series, we will draw inspiration from some of the world’s oldest universal concepts first envisioned more than two millennia ago in the ancient Sanskrit texts of the Upanishads.
Part 2 - Discover: Find The Invariable(s) In Your Organization
The previous article discussed how the sages of the Upanishads disregarded all the transient attributes of individual personality in their search for absolute reality. In their hunt for a constant, they defined what was left — the intense awareness — as the atman, the Self. This forms the core constant of our personality in contrast with our perceptions, thoughts, emotions, drives, and memories that are otherwise always evolving.
Much like the search of these sages for an absolute reality, we continue to be on a collective journey at work to establish an identity of who we are, how we work, and what we aspire to be. And while on this journey, much like those fleeting characteristics of individual personality, we find ourselves in the middle of ever evolving elements in our work environment. During the last 5 years since our inception, a lot around us has changed and continues to do so — the market trends, the client needs, the tools and the technology, and our own talent as we continue to grow each year.
However, what has remained constant over the years is the belief and trust in our people to create and shape our destiny.
Now, it is extremely difficult as it is for an individual to exert control over his or her own destiny. How can one then expect a group of individuals to shape destiny for an entire community at work? To make this concept a little more tangible, let us again look back into the pages of Upanishads to understand how one can influence one’s destiny. The Brihadaranyaka Upanishad (IV.4.5) states,
You are what your deep, driving desire is.
As your desire is, so is your will.
As your will is, so is your deed.
As your deed is, so is your destiny.
Thus, in the end all success (or failure) is driven by our character. The character itself is built upon our habits. And habits are nothing but repeated actions borne out of our intention. In an organizational context, the multitude of desires demonstrated by our teams is essentially what is shaping our destiny, led by one choice at a time that turns into action, habit, and eventually builds our character. And the freedom we provide to our people to explore these desires and commit their choices is what we have discovered to be the invariable aspect of our growth.
One of the critical decisions we have to constantly make in realizing this shared vision for our destiny is our choice for who we onboard to join us in our journey. As the phrase goes, “your vibe attracts your tribe”. Sharing our work space with a set of individuals, however diverse they may be in external attributes, but who are aligned on core beliefs has immensely contributed in this journey.
But this discovery alone in itself would fail in creating a sustainable culture in the long term until you consciously exert effort to preserve what defines you. Edgar Schein, the author of the book, “Organization Culture and Leadership”, defines culture in these terms:
Culture is a way of working together toward common goals that have been followed so frequently and so successfully that people don’t even think about trying to do things another way. If a culture has formed, people will autonomously do what they need to do to be successful.
In the last installment of this article, we will share some of our frequent ways of working together that have pushed us towards building a sustainable and homogeneous work culture.