Culture by Design

Culture is created either by design or by default. Culture created by default tends to produce mediocre results because humans have a natural tendency to take the path of least resistance. When a company has not created a culture, it will spend most of its time correcting bad attitudes and habits. Companies with a good culture are usually successful.

A culture isn’t something that’s created overnight; it requires daily investment. But the payoff is definitely worth it. It’s up to you and your wife to determine what culture you wish to create and then commit yourself to years of constant planning and teaching.

There are 3 things to remember as your go about creating a family culture?

1. Values

Values are the foundation of any culture. Values are important and lasting beliefs or ideas within an individual about what is good or bad and desirable or undesirable. Values express an idealised state of being.

2. Norms

Values are usually unobservable until and unless they have been translated into actions called norms. For example, people in capitalistic countries generally value hard work and they demonstrate it by showing up to work five days a week. Those who comply with this norm will be rewarded with a paycheck at the end of every month that they worked. Conversely, there will be consequences for those who violate it.

Norms represent your values in action. In our homes, it could be as simple as saying “Please” and “Thank you” to one another. When family members do this they are respecting one another. Family members can also show respect in the way they handle conflict. By not yelling. for example, but by having an assertive discussion.

Put simply: we are what we do, and we practice what we value.

Some norms are formal and others are informal. There are usually no punishment when informal norms are violated. The same cannot be said about formal norms. An example of formal norms are the laws of the land. One can be fined, jailed, or worse, when he violates one of them.

3. Belief

Underneath the value and norm is a belief. People value hard work because they believe it will result in wealth: something good and important. Question is: which do they value more, wealth or hard work?

4. Rituals/Traditions

Rituals and traditions are a set of behaviours and routines that provide a family a sense of identity and purpose. To illustrate how rituals and traditions can give a group of people identity, I’d like to use the example of the Jews.

Thousands of years ago, the Jews were commanded, among other things, to keep the Sabbath, circumcise the male child eight days after their birth, and abstain from eating certain types of food. Then when Israel was conquered by the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar (586 BC) the majority of the Israelites were scattered throughout the earth. They became known as the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel. But in the last 50 years, one by one, these tribes began to be found and identified as Jewish mainly by the rituals and tradition they still keep after all this time.

One of these identified Lost Tribes are the Beni Menashe Tribe (or the sons of Manessah). They lived near The border of India and China. I was privileged to be one of many Singaporeans who helped hundreds of them make aliyah (return) to Israel in 2013.

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