#2 Clarity of Culture

Do you know what elements we have in our culture? Did you ever asked why we do it?
The AIESEC Way is how we develop leadership as AIESECers, so if it’s an experience with no focus and connections with all that, it’s not AIESEC. We can’t sell AIESEC like this if we don’t walk the talk, so if only one thing is to never change is it. Other than that, any adaptations are ok as long their keep our essence. Important: as TMers we are the guardians, but we strive to make it as a natural concept and not an obligation.
What is our organizational culture? The AIESEC Way gives a base of were we clarify our mindset and views, but the culture is more than that, it’s what was created during the 70+ years of the organization. Below we bring a few more explanations about organizational culture:
  • Organizational culture includes an organization’s expectations, experiences, philosophy, as well as the values that guide member behavior, and is expressed in member self-image, inner workings, interactions with the outside world, and future expectations. Culture is based on shared attitudes, beliefs, customs, and written and unwritten rules that have been developed over time and are considered valid (The Business Dictionary).
  • Culture also includes the organization’s vision, values, norms, systems, symbols, language, assumptions, beliefs, and habits (Needle, 2004).
  • Simply stated, organizational culture is “the way things are done around here” (Deal & Kennedy, 2000).
Do you know what elements we have in our culture? Did you ever asked why we do it?
Inside AIESEC we have a few well known marks from our culture which are more spread and others that may be used or not depending of the entity. Below we put a few examples:
Roll Calls - It all started in an IC (International Conference) a many years ago, when a MC team had this bright idea: instead of raising hands when their names was called, they started to dance.
Sugar Cubes - You'll see in any AIESEC conference numberless envelopes with the name of everyone that is attending to that conference.We use them to write messages to the people we meet during the conference and, according to some entity traditions, you only open your envelope once you are back home to see all the messages.
Shouts - You'll see quite a lot of them depending of the entity.the famous shout “HEY AIESEC! Whats Up? How are you feeling!? Excellent! How are you f*cking/really feeling!? F*cking/Really excellent!” and even the OC/CC song “We love the OC/CC, we do! (x2) Oh OC/CC we love you! How much? This much!”. To summarize, we elements that are always existent and some that the entity can choose to do or not.
Signs - we use a lot of signs to make communication more effective and to not disturb others when we are speaking.
Elections Announcement - We always give chance for people to apply for different roles and it come with an extra: the water bucket (or being pushed to the pool in some entities).It’s a challenging process and not easy, so when you feel the water over you it’s a huge relief and excitement for a new journey to start.
What we want to bring with all that? Well, culture is a very strong moving force which unites people and support their engagement to keep working inside an organization, so of course it’s important for us to not just have clear our base (AIESEC Way), but guarantee that the culture will push it and make sense.
In a context were we have a crisis, is not uncommon to have people leaving things considered unimportant to the side (sometimes called “fluffy stuff”) and focusing in what they believe more relevant. From the Entrepreneur’s article we can take 3 interesting points for reflection about this matter:
  • “Who you are, as a company, is commonly called a brand. But in crisis it’s culture that really determines brand because culture will determine how you handle the crisis and ultimately how you are perceived and remembered by the public.”
  • “My definition of culture is simply this; “Culture is the prevailing mindset of any group or organization.” And it is mindset, not policy or training, that determines outcomes. Especially in crisis. Because when we’re in crisis our brain reverts to its oldest, most ingrained process, the “code” that’s running in the background all the time.”
  • “Mindset is not developed through rules or policies. It’s an inside-out change management process requiring the involvement of the neurological, mental, and emotional centers rather than being based only on sharing information. For a mindset to prevail in an organization the process must involve repetition and include enough of the leadership for it to affect daily decisions in hiring, customer service, and employee interactions.”

QUIZ #2 Clarity of Culture