Culture has always fascinated me. In the TalentCulture community we like to think of it in two ways (thanks to www.Dictionary.com): first, as the quality in a person or society that arises from a concern for what is regarded as excellent; and second, as the behaviors and beliefs characteristic of a particular social, ethnic, or age group. Clearly culture has many complex dimensions (why it interests me so much), particularly organizational culture, as Chris Jones, our community member who is interested in complexity and change, points out in his interesting series of posts that begin here.

I help companies build a strong culture through the people they hire, which is a pragmatic approach to building a community of culture that encompasses people, values and ideals. People in our community also discuss culture as a personal topic, investigating ways to align personality and corporate culture to create the ‘fit’ necessary for a positive career experience. And we look at it as a social construct, because I believe strongly in the principles of social entrepreneurship, which combine the sometimes opposing forces of pragmatism and idealism.

When cultures fit, an organization can transcend problems, innovate and flourish. Without culture fit, an organization and its members will fail to thrive and will always be vulnerable in the face of innovative challengers.

Building a corporate and community culture requires several kinds of interaction: transactional, transformational, and tacit. I adopted this model from McKinsey & Company and SandHill.com, which reported on it way back in their Software 2006 Industry Report.

Transactional interactions are repeatable and rules-based. People receive reward and achieve success through these interactions because they have relatively equal and predictable value for the participants. From a culture standpoint this is table stakes: you need to have a level playing field where the rules are well understood for all participants to benefit.

Transformational interactions are also an essential component of business culture. Something is transformed from one state into another; in the McKinsey model this may be one thing being transformed into something else, but from a culture point of view I see it as an interaction where one participant benefits from and is transformed as a result of the interaction. It may not be an equal exchange, but there is value to both parties. As an example, the relationship between a career strategist and a job seeker should be transformational.

Tacit interactions are a bit more difficult to define – Ross Mayfield describes them as “judgment or insight applied to complex communications or problem solving”. Applied to the issue of culture, I view this as a shared trust that enables a deep and more valuable interaction – a sustainable competitive advantage – what I hope to help our participants develop through the efforts of the TalentCulture community.

I have no doubt that creating a social community requires interactions that encompass idealism and pragmatism: idealism because the intent is to do good things socially through the community; pragmatism because there must be some return on investment to the community’s participants or they won’t be engaged in the community. And of course this requires culture.

The TalentCulture business and community model is focused on culture: how it’s developed and how participants in our community benefit. In the TC community we create valuable interactions that can help job seekers find the right company, give career experts a place to discuss workplace and hiring issues, and provide an environment with the resources and depth of thought to add to the many facets an organization’s culture and growth quotient.

A positive culture translates into progress for employer and employee, and it turns out progress is what we crave most. We want to know we completed a task, created a winning strategy, and satisfied a difficult customer. We want to keep moving forward. In the TalentCulture community we will explore culture in both a corporate and social community context. We will give hiring managers the tools and insight to align their company’s cultures, building strong communities of culture between management and employees. We will talk about culture and communication and progress – always progress.

Help us make this a better and useful place. Tell us what progress and culture mean to you. How do you define your culture? What does progress mean to you?