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Crafted by Justin Ahrens

The Importance of Understanding Culture

  • # Business
  • # Creative
  • # Culture
  • # Life Kerning

We can get inspired; we can learn how to upgrade our skills—but if we are not in the right culture, or helping to create the right culture, we are missing out on our best work opportunities. Culture is an important component of any company; in fact, I would argue that it may be the most important component.

Culture Defined
The first step to creating your company’s culture is to figure out what your organization stands for and making decisions based on those values. Workplace culture is the manifestation of a company’s beliefs and values. It ultimately becomes the definition of “How We Do Things Around Here.”

Culture has nothing to do with whether or not your company has a pool table or what kind of music you play in your office (if you play music at all). We often point to those things as examples of culture, but really those are the by-products, the expression, of a company’s culture.

To find out a company’s culture, you almost have to work backwards and figure it out deductively. What does a company’s posture about a particular thing say about them and what they value.

As an example: at Rule29 you will rarely (if ever) encounter someone who says We can’t do that. Our posture is generally one of possibility and interest, even if a project seems insurmountable or completely foreign to use. We generally feel capable of figuring anything out and, if history serves to prove itself, are usually successful in doing so.

If you take a look at this example, there are a few inferences that you can make:

1. Rule29 probably attracts and hires employees who have a can do” mentality. (This is true).
2. Rule29 probably attracts and wins clients or projects that present different, new challenges. (This is true).

So what led us to seek those kinds of employees and work with those kinds of clients? I would argue that it’s because we at Rule29 implicitly value continual learning and growth. Our company’s culture is such that we like to constantly be figuring things out creatively and expanding beyond our best capabilities. Because of this value, we implicitly seek people and projects that will lead us more in that direction.

You see, a company’s culture is much more than just the fun atmosphere that they have at their offices. Sure, there’s a fun atmosphere when you enter Rule29, but if you dig deeper you see the implicit values and desires that drive our creative, our employees, and our clients.

In fact, I would argue that a company’s culture is actually simply that: the result of the conversation that is constantly occurring among our employees, our clients, and our creatives, based on a set of values that underlie it all. These three groups inform and influence each other every day and take place within a structure and leadership that allows them to function out of abundance, not deficit.