What is good culture?

At Appletree, we believe that good culture is good business. But what do we mean by ‘good culture’?

When we first developed that strapline, many people came to us and asked why it was not ‘great culture’. This was probably sparked by the then trending ‘Good to Great’ by Jim Collins. But for us, good culture was good enough. And here’s why.

In developing this statement, we reflected on the well know term coming out of the first chapter of the bible, following the description of how God created the earth. At various points in the creation process He proclaims, ‘It is good’. Why didn’t He proclaim that ‘it is great’? Well that’s because the original Hebrew word being used there is the word tov. Think ‘Mazel Tov’, the Jewish way of saying ‘good luck’.

So, what does tov mean? Tov is described as an explosive and expansive word, which is something to get excited about given the following definitions:

  1. Produces life and contains the potential for more life within it.

Good culture can be felt when one walks into an organization. It is created by happy people, who have fostered healthy relationships with each other, who bring energy and creativity to work and who love what they do. Toxic cultures (not tov) are full of burden, anxiety, stress and disengagement. These cultures can suffocate those who join, no matter how happy they were when they did.

  • Well formed, or well crafted.

A good culture produces an organisation which is literally a ‘well-oiled machine’. These organisations are viable, functional and working eco systems which fulfill the purpose for which they were designed. This has to do with processes, systems, collaboration, etc. Toxic cultures produce silo’s, in fighting and are laden with legacy systems and procedures which may no longer serve employees and customers.

  • Brimming with potential.

A good culture is primed for innovation and growth, by leveraging internal resources, thinking and listening. Toxic cultures kill creativity, drown people with bureaucracy and ensure that everyone is so weighed down with work that they have no space to dream, think and create.

For those leaders out there, how many of you want an organization which is producing life and has the potential for more life within it? How many of you would like a well-oiled, well-crafted and well-formed business which is producing the results that it should? How many of you desire an organization which is brimming with potential? Because, at Appletree, that’s what we desire. That is why we are committed to growing in our ability to partner organisations who seek to shape and sustain good culture. 

We feel it’s time to reclaim the word good. It’s become too common. We describe a nice beer as a good beer. We answer the question ‘how was your day’ with ‘it was good’ without truly knowing what that word really means.

If we can develop good culture within our organisations, everyone wins. Customers win, employees win, suppliers win, communities win.

It is literally all good.

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