Despite the tragic incident on Southwest Airlines’ Flight 1380 on April 17, 2018, the culture of the Best Loved Airline ensured that the accident did not tarnish its reputation. The 1380 flight crew, in an interview on CBS News, attributed their success in safely landing the plane to their shared values. Although the crew didn’t mention a specific core value, Southwest’s Servants Heart was evident throughout all the actions taken after the accident, from Captain Tammie Jo Shults walking the aisle and speaking to every passenger once the plane was safely landed to the heartfelt message from CEO Gary Kelly.
A Snapshot of Culture in Action
A man and his wife entered a deli together late one afternoon. They were the only customers in the place. The server behind the deli counter said, “May I help you?” But before either could reply, the other person behind the deli counter, standing off to the side, uttered a fairly loud “uh-hum.” A discussion then took place between the two employees.
There is nothing more exciting than the moment a new leader is announced. Employees Google her/his name, wondering what she/he will do to change the organization. A new leader brings new ideas. She/he offers a new vision. They may even help the organization imagine better ways to remain relevant and thrive in the future.
Edward Stack, CEO of Dick’s Sporting Goods one of the largest United States retailers took a bold stand to no longer sell assault rifles. In addition, they will only sell guns to those 21 years and older. At a time when the country is divided over second amendment rights, gun control, and public safety, why would a company like Dick’s make such a decision? Was it the discovery that Nikolas Cruz the 19-year-old responsible for the Florida attack had purchased a gun from Dick’s previously? Was it because of the millennials protesting gun violence? What are the cultural implications? These answers can be found by looking at how the environment influences decision-making, public opinion, leadership, and culture.
There are several approaches to changing cultural norms in an organization, however, the actual transformation comes from its people doing something unique, adopting new behaviors, changing the way they solve problems, and the way they communicate and interact with each other.
To change something, we must understand the way it’s created, formed and influenced. Here are three powerful drivers of culture: behaviors, techniques, and symbols.