In this absorbing conversation Nilesh Makwana, co-founder and CEO of illuminance Solutions, shares a key truth upon which to create organisational culture: that deep down we are all the same, all part of humanity.
Nilesh talks about how his extensive global travels and the experience of coming to Australia as an international student and the requirement to integrate into a new culture forced a deeper sensitivity and appreciation of allowing culture and diversity to flow, and in doing so allowing creativity to emerge.
My key learning nuggets about culture from the conversation:
Having the experience of coming to a new country, and the challenge of assimilating into a new culture, becomes an asset as it forces us to become more culturally aware and sensitive to the surrounding unseen space around us that is all too often overlooked and taken for granted.
Culture centred on humanity – we are all human, we’re all have the same desires, we are essentially very similar; Maslow’s hierarchy applies to all.
Work should be a place for all to be comfortable, a place for all to be who they are.
Define what is meant by profit, it is wider than the accounting term? – it can mean creating a healthy workforce that is seldom absent, a creative workforce that continues to develop innovative solutions, a great culture with high retention, team members who freely go above and beyond when needed, retaining clients, attracting new clients, etc.
There’s a difference between greedy and profitable.
Put the financial profits back into the people of the business, after all who created the profit? Not the business. The business is made up of people. Therefore, put it back in places that generated the profit through cultural activities, food, team building, new uniforms, conference tickets, backing initiatives, new tech, chairs, desks, etc.
There was the suggestion that the true face of the culture of an organisation, at a point in time, only reveals itself through its behavioural responses when the pressure comes on in challenging times, not necessarily when things are going well. This got me thinking about how this could signify a general ‘bluntness’ or blindsightedness in the general capacity and sensitivity to read and manage culture in low pressure situations, if we are dependant on high-pressure events to really read culture.
1. develop greater cultural sensitivity in low pressure periods
2. organisational cultural pressure testing
The surrounding culture has the capacity to influence us to be, do and work contrary to our nature – which needs to be acknowledged and recognised.
Think about the eulogy of your company and what people – employees, their partners and surrounding community – will say about it, the culture and the things it did; will it be favourable or not?
Diversity is an ongoing journey, we will always be encountering and experiencing someone different to us, always learning, always facing our biases.
Bringing that diversity together in the workplace to create innovative solutions, is like a river – don’t get in the way of it, allow it to flow! This applies to all emerging solutions, clients facing, internal processes, efficiency, culturally enhancing.
The analogy continues for culture itself, you can’t control culture, but you can kill it. We have to let it flow and not get in the way or we risk killingit! Sure we have to be vigilant of anything that may come in and threaten culture, and deal with/remove it, but allow culture to flow, self-organise and grow.
Finally, all too often we are too scared and fearful to tell the truth. Often through fear of being politically incorrect and not offending people. But this has bigger and wider implications on organisational culture and performance over time.
We need safe spaces to express, explore and share our views in the world and work, and learn to respect differences of opinion, culture and background, learn to hold the tension of opposites this creates.
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