Why do some organizations feel energetic and creative while others feel stale and stagnant? Why do some businesses feel almost frenetic with activity with little to no sense of cohesion or direction? Why do others just seem stressful and mean?
The standard answer for the more energetic and creative business is usually one of two: Either "the company is just well managed" or "their work is fun and exciting rather than dull and boring." And the less desirable we tend to believe are poorly managed.
But I see something very different. Instead, I believe the causes of excitement, boredom, craziness and work stress have more to do with how tightly coupled people are to each other or how deep the splits are between individuals rather than management techniques or the nature of the work.
Because core values are so deeply personal, they belong to the individual who holds them. Not all individuals have the same core values and conflicts about them will arise.
But the idea of "shared values" is important. A shared value is a kind of “glue” that holds and brings people together. Some have called this aspect of shared or social values a form of "social capital." The stronger our shared values, the more impact we have as a team.
As a group of co-workers, we may be sailing in a clear stream where ideas are abundant and cohesion is high. In other situations, individuals are in a stagnant pool or a terrifying whirlpool.
And yes, there will likely come a time that as we each learn and grow - our flow of ideas, our desire to be innovative and opportunity will take us in a new direction, splitting us away from one group and connecting us to another group or another organization.
This is the real story of creativity, community, and the evolution of corporate culture. The rest is just an illusion.