The Question of Culture

The Question of Culture

After a week of news stories, articles, video, expert opinion, and a barrage of emotion from people all over the world, Cricket in Australian is under a level of scrutiny unmatched in recent times.

Whether you’re a fan of the game or not, the events of the last week have been a fascinating insight how symbols and expectations influence the way we choose to behave – even when deep down we know it’s probably the wrong choice.

We know that culture in a team (or business) is formed and reformed by everything done by members of the group. Every behaviour and decision sends a message; people in the group interpret this message as a reflection of what’s valued which in turn moulds the behaviours and decisions of others. Whilst there are probably hundreds of additional contextual factors we’re unaware of, the simple truth is…

Choice and behaviour are a by-product of what’s valued and accepted by that group.

What is Culture?
Culture is the sum of its shared values, principles, behaviours & characteristics.

Wikipedia indicates that… Organisational culture encompasses values and behaviours that “contribute to the unique social and psychological environment of an organisation”. Cricket Australia certainly represents an organisation, and as such, I’ll refer to them as an organisation…

Needle (2004) states that organisational culture represents the collective values, beliefs and principles of staff. It includes the vision, values, systems, symbols, language, assumptions, environment and history.

In simple terms… we as humans are hard-wired to fit in. We read signals about what it takes to fit in, and we adapt our behaviour accordingly. If we cannot do this, we either leave or the team rejects us. I believe this was partly the reason certain players have made the decisions they have, subconscious believing this was the right choice.

While patterns of behaviour may be subconscious amongst existing members of the team, young players are influenced easily, adapting to the prevailing culture so as to fit in.

Culture is also influenced by the character of the individuals that make up its collective. Individual character is implicit and subjective and stems from an individual’s values, beliefs and history (given the leadership’s good character and qualities, this is a tough one to understand).

Culture does not exist in isolation but is influenced by other factors such as leadership, higher purpose, systems, policies and the stakeholders of the organisation.


Former skipper Steve Waugh indicated on Wednesday he was “deeply troubled” by the team’s serious error of judgement, which he said failed to uphold the standards in the Spirit of Cricket document set out in 2003″ (ABC News). The problem here is the standards in question are now 15 years old – and are no longer representative of the current team in question.

Here’s where the real opportunity presents itself.

Culture determines the success of any standards being achieved and, whilst there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to culture, the culture will always need to be appropriate for the context in which the organisation is operating. In 2018, the context has changed. We have a different generation of cricketers playing with different expectations, intentions, influencing factors at play. The principles, characteristics, strategies and standards in play need to represent this generation and they need to be involved in crafting them for success to be realised.

Culture is about messages… let’s hope that Cricket Australia can manage the messages going forward.
Advance Workforce creates cultures people want to belong to. We work with organisations to…

1. Identify WHAT your current workforce health is
2. Explore WHY cultural health is so important
3. Define WHAT the desired culture involves
4. Develop your leaders in HOW to deliver on healthy cultural outcomes, and
5. Measure WHAT has changed through ROI