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

For tech professionals, the Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC) is a widely acknowledged concept that consists of several stages, encompassing planning, requirements definition, design and prototyping, development, testing, deployment, maintenance, and operations.

In the past, I have crafted numerous write-ups for business leaders and product managers regarding this approach. Currently, my aim is to alter the strategy and exhibit the process of developing a productive workplace by treating culture like a software project.

To boost motivation and productivity, the Senior Management of the organisation will undertake the role of developers. Conversely, the Software Developers will function as Product Owners.

Studies have revealed that a robust leadership structure is critical for fostering an efficient workplace. The focal point of this notion are leaders and managers who proactively cultivate and improve their company’s culture. In the same way, in actuality, the significance of UX design cannot be ignored.

When posed with the question, “What constitutes Culture?”

Culture is an extensive concept that incorporates all aspects of social existence. While a technical definition of the phrase is feasible, a more comprehensive explanation is necessary in this scenario. An individual’s behaviour and the effect of their societal setting combine to create their culture.

Our culture shapes us as individuals, and we, in turn, impart and communicate the knowledge we have acquired. Our basic values, daily habits, and perspective on life are all influenced by our surroundings and its emotional effect.

Although it is commonly believed that culture is unchanging, this is not accurate. Like living entities, cultures change and develop over time in reaction to external influences. A prime instance of how cultural influences can shift is the swift adoption of remote working brought about by the pandemic. In addition, enterprises can actively shape their corporate culture by implementing guidelines and policies.

The adaptability of a culture to changing circumstances is reliant on both its magnitude and longevity. It is similar to the challenge of transplanting or pruning a tree that is too large and has been rooted for a long time.

The Project of Culture

As cultures are defined by conduct, changing a culture necessitates modifying the behaviour of its members. Since we cannot alter neural pathways directly, creating a new behavioural pattern and fostering it through reinforcement learning is crucial.

Cultural transformation is not an immediate accomplishment and necessitates a considerable amount of time, effort, and dedication in order to succeed. Nonetheless, the software development life cycle presents a useful structure for putting in place desired alterations to our corporate culture.


As in software development, the planning phase is the first step in the process. Initially, visualise your desired outcome. How will you assess the success of efforts aimed at improving your organisational culture?

Interact with your staff and inquire which facets of the culture they would wish to alter after defining their comprehension of the word ‘culture.’ Before looking at specific details, it is essential to establish a broad overview of our objectives.

To evaluate an individual or team’s performance, Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) like the work atmosphere, stress levels, emotional state, job engagement, etc. can be utilised. The precise KPIs that will be monitored will be determined by the product owner’s necessities.

Qualitative evaluation techniques like focus groups and in-depth interviews with team members can be beneficial, offering insights into the experience from the participants’ unique perspectives.

Establish Required Conditions

After developing a vision, the subsequent stage is to offer structure by defining your objectives with the assistance of your product owner (i.e., your team once again). Keep in mind the four factors of a well-defined goal.

We are fully cognizant of the current situation.

We are striving for a specific and well-defined objective.

Our team has devised a strategy to aid us in achieving our goal.

We can assess our advancement and determine whether we are proceeding in the right direction.

Although we are providing our concepts and input in software development, the product owner has the ultimate decision in what is feasible. Presently, all ideas are being considered, regardless of their practicality.

Create, Fail Quickly, and Enhance

Now comes the interesting part. We have identified our target and the requirements of the Product Owner. For the sake of this discussion, let us assume that the team members have determined that creating a more sociable work environment is a priority and that establishing a greater sense of familiarity among team members is necessary to accomplish this objective.

If your team includes individuals who enjoy gaming, scheduling a weekly board game tournament could be advantageous. Additionally, implementing casual Fridays with refreshments might be an excellent approach to generate a festive environment.

At this point, you have enough information to produce a prototype of your intended solution. This prototype can be presented to the team or trialed by beta users to receive feedback, comparable to how a software release is tested.

For instance, when devising a set of guidelines for the team to abide by concerning internal communications, it is advisable to introduce a new regulation, gather data for a certain duration, assess and modify as required, and then implement the next regulation.

It is advisable to adopt an incremental design method. Commence by beginning with a small component of the project, evaluating, enhancing and extending it. This will establish a route to reach the intended outcome.

Adopting a gradual implementation approach also has the advantage of facilitating smoother transitions, which decreases the probability of opposition from team members when they are requested to adjust to a novel organizational culture, even if they were the individuals who first requested the modifications.

The majority of individuals would favour gradual progressions and compromises, rather than sudden changes. Opting for a gradual approach has more merits than demerits, even if it necessitates a slightly longer period to accomplish the intended objective.

Having additional time could be advantageous in obtaining deeper insight into the consequences of adopting your new culture. This time will also enable you to assess the benefits and drawbacks of making these changes permanent.

Maintenance and Operating the System

Making a single behaviour alteration is fairly simple. However, maintaining that behaviour for an extended period, particularly when attempting to modify a deeply entrenched culture, presents a significant challenge.

Devise a sustainable reward system that promotes the desired behaviours. This could be based on income, social standing or point accumulation, comparable to how points and badges are used in video games.

A brief document summarizing the benefits of the project’s new behaviours and the reasoning behind them could be a persuasive way of encouraging people to embrace them, similar to how documentation facilitates the adoption of new software.

It is crucial to acknowledge that building a new culture is a cyclical process, similar to programming. It is vital to keep seeking opportunities for enhancement, remain open to notions and recommendations, and never waver in our endeavours to establish a work atmosphere that is favourable to productivity and well-being.

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