Culture as a Product: How to Increase Efficiency and Morale in Your Workplace

The Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC) is well-known to those with experience in the technology field, and is comprised of the stages of planning, requirements definition, design and prototyping, development, testing, deployment, maintenance and operations.

I have previously written several articles for business leaders and product managers about this process. Now, I would like to change the approach and demonstrate how to create a productive workplace by treating culture like a software project.

The Senior Management of the company will take on the role of developers, while Software Developers will act as Product Owners in order to enhance motivation and productivity.

It has been demonstrated that a robust leadership structure is essential for the cultivation of an effective working environment. Leaders and managers who take the initiative to develop and enhance their organization’s culture are the focal point of this consideration. As is the case in the real world, the importance of UX design is undeniable.

When asked this question, “What is Culture?”

Culture is a broad term encompassing all aspects of social life. A technical definition of the term can be provided; however, a more general explanation is pertinent to this context. Individuals’ behavior and the influence of their social environment combine to form their culture.

As individuals, we are molded by our culture, and in turn, we perpetuate and transmit the knowledge we have gained. Our fundamental principles, daily routines, and outlook on life are all shaped by our surrounding environment and its emotional impact.

It is widely assumed that culture is static; however, this is not the case. Cultures, similar to living organisms, evolve over time in response to external factors. For instance, the rapid adoption of remote working due to the pandemic is a key example of how cultural influences can change. Additionally, organizations can actively shape the culture of their business by introducing guidelines and policies.

The ability of a culture to adjust to changing conditions is dependent on both its size and its age. It is comparable to attempting to transplant or trim a tree which is too large and long-standing.

The Cultural Project

Cultures are determined by behavior, so in order to change a culture we must alter the behavior of its people. As we cannot modify neural pathways directly, we need to encourage the establishment of a new behavioral pattern and reinforce it through reinforcement learning.

Cultural change is not something that can be achieved instantly, and requires time, energy and commitment to be successful. However, the software development life cycle can provide a useful framework for implementing desired changes to our organizational culture.


The initial phase of the process is to plan, similar to software development. To begin, envision your intended result. How do you measure the effectiveness of initiatives created to enhance corporate culture?

Engage with your employees and, after clarifying their understanding of the term ‘culture’, ask them which aspects they would like to change. A general overview of our aims should be established before considering any specific details.

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) such as workplace environment, stress, emotional state, job engagement etc. can be employed to gauge an individual or team’s performance. The specific KPIs to be monitored will be determined by the requirements of the product owner.

Focus groups and in-depth interviews with team members can be useful methods of qualitative assessment, providing insights into the experience from the participants’ individual perspectives.

Define Necessary Conditions

Once you have a vision, the next step is to provide structure by establishing your objectives with the support of your product owner (your team once more). Do not forget the four criteria of a clearly articulated goal.

We’re well aware of the situation at hand.

We’re working toward a clear, definable goal.

Our team has worked up a plan of attack to help us reach our objective.

We may evaluate our progress and see whether we are heading in the correct path.

We are providing our ideas and feedback in software development; however, the product owner has the final say within what is achievable. All suggestions are being taken into account at this time, regardless of their practicality.

Invent, Fail Fast, and Improve

Now, the exciting part. We have a target and the Product Owner’s needs established. It has been assumed, for the purpose of this argument, that the team members have concluded that a more social working environment is a priority, and that increasing familiarity between them is a condition for achieving this goal.

If your team contains gamers, organizing a weekly board game tournament might be beneficial. Alternatively, introducing casual Fridays with refreshments could be a great way to create a party atmosphere.

You now have sufficient data to create a prototype of your desired solution. This prototype can be showcased to the team or tested by beta users to receive feedback, similar to how a software version would be tested.

As an example, when developing a set of rules for the team to adhere to in regard to internal communications, it is recommended to implement a new regulation, collect data for a period of time, evaluate and make any necessary changes, and then roll out the next regulation.

An incremental design approach is recommended. Begin by starting with a small part of the project and testing, refining and expanding upon it. This will create a pathway to the desired outcome.

An additional benefit of the gradual implementation approach is that it facilitates smoother transitions, reducing the likelihood of resistance from team members when they are asked to adapt to a new organizational culture, even if they were the ones who initially requested the changes.

Most individuals would prefer gradual advancements and compromises rather than drastic changes. Taking a gradual approach has more advantages than disadvantages, even if it means taking a bit longer to achieve the desired outcome.

Gaining further insight into the implications of the adoption of your new culture could be beneficial with the additional time available. This time will also provide you with the opportunity to evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of making these changes permanent.

Preventative Upkeep and Running the Machine

It is relatively straightforward to effect a single change in behavior, however sustaining that behavior over the long-term, especially when attempting to modify a deeply rooted culture, is a considerable challenge.

Design a reward system that is sustainable and encourages the desired behaviors. This can be based on revenue, social reputation or point accumulation, similar to the way in which points and badges are used in video games.

A concise document outlining the advantages of the project’s new behaviors and the rationale behind them could prove to be an effective way of persuading people to embrace them, much like how documentation aids the adoption of new software.

It is essential to recognize that the development of a new culture is an iterative process, akin to programming. It is imperative to continually seek out opportunities for improvement, be receptive to ideas and suggestions, and never cease in our efforts to create a workplace environment that is conducive to productivity and wellbeing.

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