Aké Satia is the Chief Vision Officer at Aké Satia, a Human Capital firm in the DC area focused on strengthening organizations by bolstering the intersection of people strategy and business strategy.



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Every organization has a culture! What’s yours?

This week, we start a new series on an intriguing topic – Organizational Culture!
Exciting times lie ahead!

What is culture?

Culture affects every human being! Regardless of our demographics, location, or personal interests, we are all impacted by cultures. But what exactly is culture? The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the term: culture as: “the set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an institution or organization.” Culture Definition & Meaning – Merriam-Webster

I have a particular affinity for this definition because of its all-encompassing nature and its emphasis on the word: shared. – A single individual cannot create a culture. Others have to be involved. And we are all influenced and impacted by the attitudes, values, goals, and practices of societies to which we belong. Notably, this affects how we view the world and behave from an early age.

For many of us, the cities we grew up in and the academic institutions we attended still affect our choice of friends, hobbies, and occupations today. – Well, perhaps, if you are a hermit living alone in the middle of nowhere, you might argue that culture does not affect you. But if that’s the case, you wouldn’t be reading this blog right now. 😊

Undeniably, culture matters to all of us. And it is vital in organizations. Why?

Why does culture matter?

One of the areas in which culture affects us most profoundly pertains to the organizations in which we work. 

And when a leader understands this, they can harness the power of the organizational culture to drive results by motivating, partnering, and enabling workers to fulfill their career aspirations and meet business goals. 

As we all know, a healthy organizational culture can enable an organization to grow and succeed. However, a weak culture, i.e., one based on faulty principles or unsustainable practices, can damage an organization.
I often think of building an organizational culture like planting roses in a garden. – It takes a while to plant, harvest, and hold a beautiful rose bouquet. But in poor weather, an entire rose bush could vanish in the blink of an eye. Organizational cultures are similar and they can be difficult to sustain. Why?

The challenges of sustaining a practice.

To better understand this, let’s make it personal. 

Consider an activity many of us engage in to build a healthy self-care culture: Working out! – For many of us, when we decide to start working out, our preparation is akin to that of a soldier going into battle. – We purchase snazzy workout gear and invest in a state-of-the-art gymnasium or equipment. We might even enlist a buddy to accompany us on the mission.

These efforts are valuable because they lead to a good workout day, week, or month. But sooner or later, we are faced with reality. And we realize that maintaining a healthy self-care culture requires more than cool gear, top-of-the-line equipment, and a gym buddy.

What is required to sustain a healthy practice?

Cultures are built on practices. And to sustain a healthy practice, we need to know why we do what we do. Because knowing this enables us to endure unavoidable mundane and challenging times. – This applies to fitness endeavors and organizations. – Repetition and consistency are vital to success! – But this is where many organizations fall short. Consider an initiative many organizations invest in – The all-too-common Employee Recognition Program! 

Developing a formal recognition program is a good idea. But many such programs do not achieve the desired objectives. Sometimes, this might be a result of poor conceptualization. But often, the problem is in the execution. – We administer the program for one month, get positive feedback, and neglect to run it for several months. Or we select recipients in a manner that seems arbitrary. And employees lose confidence. 

As with our get-healthy endeavors, repetition and consistency are vital to building a healthy organizational culture.

Another reality is: cultures change. – Organizational cultures are not stagnant because humans are not stagnant. And this is good news for an organizational leader because you can propel improvement through change. – Specifically, by promoting positive behaviors. And by discouraging behaviors that are contrary to the desired values. 

Also, sustaining a healthy culture requires nimbleness. Specifically, realizing that as time goes by, as external factors change, and as team members join and leave, the culture will likely change. Therefore, the key is to retain foundational principles that enable the organization to thrive. And resist hanging onto the past or the present out of fear or nostalgia.


Over the next few weeks, we will explore different aspects of organizational cultures. And the goal is to provoke our thinking and inspire us to make deliberate decisions that strengthen our organizations. 

In the meantime, ponder this: 

What is your organizational culture? – In what ways does the culture propel the organization’s vision? What are two cultural aspects that do not benefit your organization? And what are two specific changes that could strengthen the culture?

Until next time!

For you and to you,



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