The Importance of Culture

When I picked up a Booker winning classic last year I didn’t anticipate a lesson in career (and to a larger extent character) building in it. I just wanted to wade through the pages that carried a distinctly British air.

Ishiguro’s Remains of the Day has a debate its lead character Stevens’ has with a fellow butler on notion of professionalism. What does it mean to be professional? And in those pages I found perhaps the most brilliant depiction of what drives successful men. The summary that I gathered while probably being subjective to a large extent is – reliability.

A butler for as long as he dons his uniform must bid the duty of a butler and not waver from what is expected of him. The idea was that a true professional doesn’t have different shades. That one can bank on a professional, at any time at any point.  We live in an interlinked world and going ahead our work will be a lot more collaborative (more on this later). There are others who depend on us to deliver so that they may in turn deliver on their bit. Professionalism counts, and counts a lot more in our time today.

What does this have to do with Culture?

Drag the idea of dependability to a company. Extend it to the larger gamut of reliability. A company needs to be reliable so that its stakeholders feel the larger sense of security that will enable them to focus on the aspects of work that needs their complete attention. Vendors need to know they can rely on this firm on work, credit and payments. Employees reflect and respond to the reliance they have on their firm. Clients need to know that things will be taken care of, that things are okay, that they’re in good hands. Reliability is the foundation of trust and trust in our times is brand equity.

It is in this regard that culture and professionalism find the sanctity of their relationship. Continue reading

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