I love being British.
I was thinking about this the other day and what had caused this upswell of pride. Strangely it was the Tube in London.
Or more specifically it was the blaring announcement at Great Portland Street: ‘Mind the Gap!’
Those three words are really barked out in a clipped English accent but are so well known that they’ve become part of our culture.
Later the same day I was travelling from Paddington to Reading.
Even the names are evocative… just like many place names around the country. I mean, how many countries around the world have village names like: Pratts Bottom?
Anyway, coming to the end of the journey there was announcement. ‘This is your last station stop… all change, please.’
Simple words but part of the fabric of who we are.
And then I looked around at other things: police officers not carrying guns… enforcing law through consent rather than force. I was thinking about this drinking a warm beer in a pub where people were talking about football, their day at work, where they were going later.
As I looked out of the window a red double decker bus went passed followed by a black cab.
I know we complain about things a lot and there’s a lot that needs to be fixed and even more things we need to do differently, but it all sort of… works.
Then I tried to define what it ‘felt’ like to be British. And that’s where it got a bit difficult. I couldn’t put it into words. There was just so much it got overwhelming thinking about it… like trying to grab a bar of soap in the bath. Every time I thought I had it and tried to grip the bar of soap it squirted off somewhere else.
This got me thinking about businesses and culture and what it’s like to work around here. When we ask people to define the culture in their business they often struggle and this can be an issue because culture can act as a blocker or an enabler in a business.
If your business culture is a blocker you have to identify why and then shift the culture so the blockers are removed.
One way to describe the culture in a business is the sum total of things like: history, traditions, myths, legends, stories, folklore, policies, procedures, behaviours, management style, sickness records, working hours, products (past, present and future), appetite for risk, willingness to change, longevity of the workforce…
And everything is related to everything else, creating what’s known as The Cultural Web.
No wonder it’s difficult to describe what it’s like to be British!