Two lines of a recent article captured my attention:

You can’t take the old model with you. You can take your organization’s values with you.

I’ve been thinking about this topic a lot recently. Organizations have a basic DNA that has been built up over years and years of habit.

The thing is, it is easy to look at the processes and say, that’s what our culture is all about. A company like NCI can look at what it does and say, OK, we sell advertising and distribute magazines. And, when we begin to think about how to transition to a new business reality, we might say, “Let’s migrate this business model into a new medium.”

There’s nothing really wrong with those conclusions, but it isn’t about the culture. The culture is made up of the reason why the people in the company do the things that they do, how they like to spend time and interact with their customers.

At our company, the culture is about helping out, doing things that make our customers and each other successful, figuring out ways to save our customers time and money in the things that they really need to do. The process that developed and dominated our development over the past 20 years was creating and distributing local advertising in classified magazines. But that doesn’t mean it’s the only process we can implement and be successful at.

In the crucible of this economic disruption, a company needs to bet on its culture and values, and hope that the new business models develop in a fast and efficient way.