Interview with Culture Labx founder Josh Levine

webinar-promoBusiness trends tend to come and go like pop songs, so it’s tempting to hear the recent emphasis on culture as another one of those buzz words, a millennial version of “Who Moved my Cheese?”. It’s equally tempting to ignore it, especially when the expected outcome is often unclear. More of a “nice to have if you’re Google”, but… your company isn’t quite there yet.

Although the concept of managing culture is not new, the trend connecting it to issues from attrition to productivity is a fairly recent development. In fact, although the supporting evidence for these improved outcomes is clear, the implementation part can be a deterrent, especially when a common rationale for ignoring culture is the lack of time to manage it.

Enter Culture Labx founder Josh Levine, with innovative yet approachable solutions for measuring and improving culture in your organization. It’s enough to make the busiest, or in some cases the most cynical, leaders take pause.

I met Josh after attending one of his Culture Workshops, where he kept the audience fully engaged from start to finish.  Still new to the ways of the Valley, I’d been doing the networking rounds to get pulse of the place. My immediate impression of the role culture plays in Silicon Valley was how relatively little time was devoted to cultivating it. Josh’s concepts struck me as both timely and effective.

I knew I had to connect with this dynamic visionary and introduce his message to those who need it most. Fortunately for anyone interested in improving company culture, Josh Levine is keen to share his knowledge, including the fact that knowledge alone isn’t enough.

Learn why, and what you can do about it in this brief but meaty exchange:

EB: In your years of facilitating change in the corporate workplace, have you found a framework that leaders can use to better manage their culture?

JL: That’s a great question. In the first few years of Culture LabX we went back and forth attempting to define what company culture was. In the end, though regardless of how anyone defined culture, we realized it wasn’t helpful in understanding how to design and manage for it.

So we put together what we felt were the six most important components of culture, for managers and leaders to begin using as levers in designing and managing their cultures. The response has been beyond our expectations.

Here they are:

     purpose – why you are in business beyond making money

     values – the guardrails to help your community stay on track

    behaviors – the choices every community member makes

     recognition – highlighting the ideal behaviors

     rituals – regular activities that strengthen relationships

cues – reminders of the future we are all working towards

EB: what’s the biggest challenge when trying to scale a company’s culture?

JL: This is the question I get ALL the time: how do you scale company culture? I didn’t know myself, but after so many people expressed interest, I did some research into the root issues that get in the way of scaling when it comes to culture.

I published a few articles on the topic here, but briefly what I found was that when an organization grows, barriers that inhibit relationships begin to stack up. Relationships are the synapses of business—they enable you to know the who’s and the what’s. But as teams are formed, new offices built, management layers inserted, even cubicles people lose touch with each other. No one structure or barrier is bad in itself, but added up it becomes a problem. What’s worse, most folks don’t realize it is effecting their culture until it’s too late.

Well, not too late really. But typically I’ve found it much harder to institute new rituals than build them in from the start.

EB: What can a manager do if leadership hasn’t prioritized culture at their company?

JL: That’s a tough one. It can be demoralizing if the executive team doesn’t see the value of culture as much as a manager does, but it doesn’t mean there’s no hope. I’ve advised a number of middle managers on this, and found that they can create their own micro-culture amongst their sphere of influence.

When people start to notice, they might ask how you’ve gotten those results, or how come your team seems so much more connected? At that point they’re asking “what’s your secret?” and it’s your obligation to share it.

It isn’t a quick fix, but investing in culture whether as an individual, a team, or company is an investment that can and will pay off for years.

Join Josh Levine live and in person on 9/29 at the Silicon Valley Capital Club, click here for details:





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