– “Visitors are informed that in the United Kingdom traffic drives on the left-hand side of the road. In the interest of safety, you are advised to practice this in your country of origin for a week or two before driving in the UK”…. uh? (Road Safety Act 2006)

Try to break a piece of glass by throwing sand at it….think about it when you try to make a difference in your workplace

– Culture is a simplification, a convenient short hand, it keeps on breaking down as you get closer to the point that you get to the level of individuals.

– If you want to change culture, hold your stated values long enough to change the basic assumptions

– Show me a good loser and I will show you a loser – Lou Gerst (Former CEO, IBM)

– Be aspirational, not only inspirational! Go beyond the incremental!

– Friendship expressed as a Fruit Culture

Peach culture: soft on the outside, willing to share personal information with people you hardly know….but after the soft part is over you reach a hard nut at the center…hard to get thru

Pineapple culture: prickly on the outside, but once in, you go all the way to the core. Once a Friend, always a Friend!


Today was the day of culture, one when we looked at how cultures can influence an organization. We studied the cases of IBM and WWF.
Some of the nuggets..
Culture is inherited wisdom, allows you to stand on the shoulder of the giant, but be careful to keep it alive!

The best way to change culture may not be the most direct one….

Small things matter, YOU can start to change, you do not have to wait for some superior force to come. You can make a difference when there are things you believe in.

Individuals bring with them a little piece of each culture they come into contact with. Individuals are a unique combination of experiences.

Lou Gerstner, CEO IBM once said: ” I came to see in my time at IBM that culture isn’t just one aspect of the game it IS the game. In the end, and organization is nothing more than the collective capacity of its people to create value. Vision, strategy, marketing, financial system can set you on the right path and can carry you for a while. But no enterprise will succeed over the long haul if those elements aren’t part of its DNA”

So the question begs “Is strong culture good for performance?” …in 1982 Tom Peter in “In Search of Excellence” said a definite YES! “The excellent companies are marked by very strong cultures, so strong that you either buy into their norms or get out”
In 1992, the same Tom Peters in “Liberation Management” tried to convince us absolutely NO! “It is the remarkable difference of character among the so-called ‘subordinate’ units that allow the parent to thrive…..”

and how about now? after 2 and half decades of management research we finally came to the conclusion that “YES and NO”….. this leaves me wonder about management scholars and their self preservation….but more than that this makes me think that high performance comes from sharing a SMALL SET of “living” core cultural elements letting everything else vary as needed.

Today was a day when I appreciated once more the value of diversity!

imdI am at IMD, a leading business school based in Lausanne, Switzerland participating in the CGIAR Senior leadership course. There are about 35 of us, coming from over 20 countries, not all from the CGIAR centers, a number of national partners are here too. It is a great gathering of interesting people. We are following a course on leadership in change. Given the CGIAR reform process the course is very timely. I will write a few notes from the course, notes that I hope my colleagues will find interesting….little nuggets of wisdom (if you wonder what wisdom is…keep reading as the subject of wisdom, culture, cult….. will be explained in one of my posts…) that I would like to share with you. So keep reading….the tag is CGIAR Senior leadership 09