How well does your organization communicate culture?

Good communication is a fundamental aspect of a strong, well-aligned culture. When we see organizations with strong cultural foundations, we know that they do an exceptional job of communicating strategies and goals and creating dialogue. They know how to impact actions and activities, and they work to establish an active feedback loop, allowing teams to understand how their organization works together. Clear communication allows the entire organization to witness the drive toward a common vision and strategy.

Without this communication, the processes and habits upon which culture is built break down. Crucial data falls through the cracks. Employees voice concerns but never see them addressed. The organization can’t learn from its mistakes, because no one knows what those mistakes are. The organization loses direction, loses momentum, and growth grinds to a halt.

Clearly, communication is important. So important, in fact, that culture can’t happen without it. But is it the only thing a culture needs in order to thrive?

If communication is so essential, why isn’t it on the Denison Model?

After all this discussion about the importance of good communication, those of you familiar with the Denison Model may notice a gap. Communication isn’t one of the specific indexes we measure. Why hasn’t it made the cut?

Communication plays a part in every aspect of Denison Model. The difference between strong vs. poor communication is the biggest factor in determining whether a certain sector of the culture improves or fails. In fact, strong communication in some indexes of the Denison Model can cover up a surprising deficiency in another area. For instance, an organization with strong core values and empowered employees may be overconfident in the strength of their culture, because they have failed to recognize the lack of strategic direction, or an inability to introduce organizational learning into their culture.

Communication is a factor in building a strong organizational culture, but clearly it plays a different role from that of Mission or Adaptability. An organization that is aligned around a strong mission, or able to adapt to market changes, is an end goal. Communication is the means of achieving it.

Clear communication fuels culture growth.

Culture and communication go hand-in-hand, but reducing one to signify the other simplifies a complex picture. We focus on creating strong cultural alignment around the four core areas of Mission, Consistency, Involvement, and Adaptability. Each of those areas has its own subset of factors, each of which influence and impact culture growth. They are like parts in a machine, and each is necessary in order for the machine to function.

However, communication provides the fuel to make the machine move. Clear, consistent communication allows you to share your company’s vision, establish core values, orient your teams, and impart organizational standards. And, an open channel for feedback ensures that communication happens in both directions. A company with poor communication cannot hope to build a strong culture.

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