Culture at media companies changes with awareness, care

By Martha Ortiz

Medellin, Colombia


We all could agree that this is the era of constant technology innovation. As a consequence, we are obsessed with how to play smart. We are obsessed with our strategy. And we are obsessed with being fast.

However, even the best plan doesn’t have a chance if we don’t take care of our organisational culture.

Peter Drucker says “culture eats strategy for breakfast.” I couldn’t agree more. Start-ups are fresh and able to change with agility. However, they also have to build a culture that allows them to successfully face market demands in the long run.

Top leadership must sow the seeds of growth throughout a company.
Top leadership must sow the seeds of growth throughout a company.

On the other hand, legacy companies have an additional challenge because their past could carry stigma and negative behaviour that stops change and innovation based on ignorance and fear.

Too many great ideas and enthusiastic leaders could inspire small teams, but they can’t implement disruptive changes in their business if they land in companies that tacitly or explicitly don’t want to evolve.

Culture is not a simple concept

UNESCO defines culture as the “set of distinctive spiritual, material, intellectual, and emotional features of society or a social group, that encompasses not only art and literature, but lifestyles, ways of living together, value systems, traditions, and beliefs.”

After seeing the importance of culture in creating outstanding media companies, I have been reading about the subject and promoted conversations with experts, such as the Caramelo Escaso firm in Colombia, to develop the talent to lead culture with assertiveness. These are some of the things I have learned in regard to structural ideas our industry needs to know.

Caramelo Escaso would say culture can be defined as the Web that invisibly groups and (unconsciously) directs a society. This includes attitudes, beliefs, principles, and ways of creating a human group.

Key steps to changing culture

The higher purpose is the engine that mobilises culture. Define the present culture, even if is painful. Create an articulated strategy. And, design symbolic elements, but remember that culture is not slogan and posters.

Media leaders need to work on the elements that conform a proactive triangle consisting of the leader, their team, and the company. They must invite others to support them.

It is important to remember culture is one of the things that goes from top to bottom. This means only a coherent CEO and vice presidents can sow new seeds of growth throughout the rest of the organisation because culture is a projection of the habits, practices, and attitudes of everyday life. To help in that conquest, we should seduce some allies (an ambassador team), but remember everyone is an influencer — so negative people actively push in the opposite direction. Act on both of them!

However, for the ambassador team can help identify them (in any part of the organisation), enable resonance, and enable relevance.

Keep evolving

To change a culture, is important to raise the level of appropriation, awareness, and indicators.

Don’t leave this to chance unless you want to leave your strategy, too.

Jeff Bezos says that what is dangerous is not to evolve. Well, it is impossible to evolve if we don’t take constantly care for company culture. There are better things to eat in life than your strategy.

About Martha Ortiz

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