An organization’s culture is more valuable and singular than just a way of doing business. Culture is one of the few elements that simply cannot be replicated. Products can be copies and processes mimicked, but culture is utterly specific to an organization.

Culture: Defined and in Practice

Think of an organization’s culture as the beliefs and behaviors that determine how a company’s employees and management interact as well as how they handle outside business interactions as well as transactions.

That may imply a rather democratic process—in effect, an organization’s culture that’s created with equal input from everyone involved. That may be true to some degree, but the reality is that culture is very much a top-down entity. Phrased another way, it’s largely up to the leaders of an organization to craft a prevailing culture and, from there, to work to make as certain as possible that everyone understands that culture and actively employs it. The connection and synergy that culture and people functioning in a complementary fashion can create can be very powerful. Your culture can be a strategic asset, or it can act as an anchor holding progress back.

Establishing a Culture of Innovation

That begs the question: If leadership is responsible for the creation of an organization’s culture, just what sort of culture should they build—and, further, what type of culture will an entire organization most likely embrace?

To answer that, it can be helpful to know the prevailing environment that exists both inside your organization as well as outside it. We are in a time of rapidly exploding, exponential innovation that carries companies that effectively anticipate the future far past their competitors. Just compare Airbnb to hotel chains like Marriott and Hilton, or Uber to large cab companies, to appreciate how being anticipatory can allow you to jump ahead of the established competition.

That can also foster a pervasive culture. My Anticipatory Organization Model emphasizes that, by building an anticipatory culture focused on accelerating innovation that can take place at every level of an organization’s activities and functions, you can transform results. That builds a new and particularly widespread mindset of innovation, one that promotes everyday types of innovation as well as game-changing forms of innovation that can upend entire industries.

A Culture Built Around Futureview

That can prove particularly valuable and advantageous when it comes to building a culture that encourages everyone involved to be as anticipatory as possible. In one respect, that can translate to an understanding of the concepts of Hard and Soft Trends. While Hard Trends are those future events that will happen, Soft Trends are future possibilities—things that may or may not occur but which are open to influence. Used in concert, they can allow people throughout an organization to be anticipatory with a high degree of accuracy and reliability.

Closely tied to this anticipatory environment is my concept known as Futureview. In brief, this refers to how you view the future and, in turn, how that shapes how you act in the present. In other words, your Futureview will determine the future you.

That raises the question: Is your organization’s culture based on a Futureview of a world that is ceasing to exist or one that is based on the Hard Trends that are literally shaping the future? Further, is your organization’s shared Futureview one that sees the Good Old Days of your business and industry as ahead of you, or behind you?

These sorts of concepts and ideas underscore the inextricable connection between culture and the people within an organization. If you craft a culture that’s anticipatory and one whose Futureview is elevated to be in line with the exponential growth of transformational technologies and the limitless opportunities they represent, then you can positively leverage both your singular culture as well as the people who make that culture central to their professional lives.

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Organizational culture is your company’s DNA. Learn to define, establish and maintain a culture of innovation. Order your copy of Daniel Burrus’ new book The Anticipatory Organization.