What is culture and why does it matter?

What is culture and why does it matter?


Culture is our lifestyle. It incorporates our qualities, convictions, traditions, dialects and customs. Culture is reflected in our history, in our legacy and by they way we express thoughts and imagination.

Culture is our way of life. It includes our values, beliefs, customs, languages and traditions.  Culture is reflected in our history, in our heritage and in how we express ideas and creativity. Our culture measures our quality of life, our vitality and the health of our society.  Through our culture we develop a sense of belonging, personal and cognitive growth and the ability to empathize and relate to each other. Direct benefits of a strong and vibrant culture include health and wellness, self esteem, skills development, social capital and economic return.

Culture reflects “how we do things around here.” It is the shared assumptions that a group has learned from its successes over time. Culture is a powerful and often unconscious set of forces that influences both individual and collective behavior.

Culture refers to the customs and social behavior of the people in a given community and it highlights the manifestations of intellectual achievements belonging to the body of the people comprising that community collectively. As Mahatma Gandhi once said, ” A nation’s culture resides in the hearts and in the soul of its people”. Therefore, we should do our best to preserve and respect our culture, but at the same time, we must continue to modify, change , and improve it because our self identity is reflected through the way our culture looks to the others.  

Why culture matters

Culture correlates with performance. Based on research of over 1,000 organizations that encompass more than three million individuals, those with top quartile cultures (as measured by the Organizational Health Index) post a return to shareholders 60 percent higher than median companies and 200 percent higher than those in the bottom quartile.

Culture is inherently difficult to copy. The quickening pace of innovation means that products and business models face the constant threat of being replicated. In this environment, the ultimate competitive advantage is a healthy culture that adapts automatically to changing conditions to find new ways to succeed.

Healthy cultures enable organizations to adapt. In a world where the one constant is change, culture becomes even more important because organizations with high-performing cultures thrive on change. The converse also holds true: Unhealthy cultures do not respond well to change. Our research shows that 70 percent of transformations fail, and 70 percent of those failures are due to culture-related issues.

Unhealthy cultures lead to underperformance…or worse. Over time, not only do unhealthy cultures foster lackluster performance, but they can be your undoing. Daily headlines attest, culture can bring corporate giants to their knees.

Culture and tradition are profound parts of our lives. They allow us to come together to mark life’s milestones, and celebrate our heritage and the people we love. For many, they provide a sense of home, of history and identity.

Culture and tradition belong to everyone. Each of us gets to interpret, adapt and practice the beliefs, customs and rituals that are meaningful to us as individuals. These are basic cultural rights – guaranteed to everyone without discrimination.

Culture and tradition are not fixed: they change over time and are viewed and interpreted differently within societies. There are traditions of hate and repression, just as there are traditions of equality and justice. It’s up to each of us to decide for ourselves which ones to carry on. You decide.

Sammi xx

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