In case you missed it, Maddie and I released a new white paper earlier this month about our new maturity model for culture management. The title of the paper is the same as this blog post, The New Work of Culture, and we chose that title because we’re trying to wake people up a little bit here.

There is NEW work to be done, folks. One of the reasons—maybe even the biggest reason—that most organizations plod along with fairly mediocre cultures is that leaders simply ignore the basic work that needs to be done to create and sustain a strong culture. It’s not motivation; everybody WANTS an awesome culture. It’s a combination of ignorance (they don’t know what the real work of culture is) and prioritization (they don’t have time).

Our white paper is aimed at the ignorance part. The work of culture is actually pretty straightforward, it’s just never been taught in leadership and management classes, and it’s unlikely you learned it from your mentor early in your career either. In our model, we identify three distinct levels, and each has its own set of work: culture as a concept, culture as a practice, and culture as a system.

A lot of organizations have tackled the concept part, often in the form of core values statements. But if you want to get serious, you’ll need to develop it as a practice and a system. That will include things like giving people time to do the culture work, embedding culture into your core HR processes, and creating a whole new set of metrics to make sure your culture is actually making you more successful.

If you want to see where you are now, we even have a quick online assessment (and when I send your results, I’ll include a copy of the white paper). Or you can just download the white paper here. Either way, start understanding what it takes to make a strong culture that is sustainable. This is a new core competency for leadership in today’s environment.

Jamie Notter