The Religion of Business Culture – Day 6

A line that I've often heard repeated in my industry is "Culture eats strategy for breakfast". The core thought behind this idea is straightforward. No matter the plans laid by the chief executives, the rest of the organization will stick with "The way it's always been done". I always found the culture phrase a bit odd.

A few years ago, I noticed something with the language used within the business world and I haven't been able to unsee it. With the emphasis on developing and improving the culture within a business, many of the words have taken on a decidedly religious tone. Considering that the word "culture" comes from the word "cult" this is not exactly surprising. But considering the large rise of the "nones", that is, those who have no religious affiliation, this is rather surprising.

Some examples:

  • In sales and marketing, a new paying customer is called a "conversion"
  • In scrum, the core activities of "standup", "Sprint review", retrospective", and "sprint planning" are referred to as "ceremonies"
  • I've recently begun seeing references to daily routines before beginning work or a meeting referred to as "rituals"
  • Another practice that I've heard about is creating a "sacred space" before a meeting, where people can ask each other how they are feeling.

Now, I'm not against these activities or the use of these words, they have a deeper meaning that too often are left at the surface level. It does lead me to wonder about the direction toward which we are changing the business culture. It also makes me wonder about the current tendency that I see with business taking on more and more humanitarian causes and people acting in ways that would make more sense in a cult than in a business. There is a concerted effort to drive organized religion out of the public square through such things as reducing the freedom of religion to the freedom of worship. However, it would seem as though the goal of ridding society of religion is utterly failing. The individuals in society are turning to another organized entity, businesses themselves, and then placing in them a kind of religious fervor.

Sadly, this is not what business is for. Business is about serving others through work, but not by being a religion itself. No business venture can satisfy the religious needs of the human heart, for as St. Augustine puts it "Oh Lord, our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee". To truly satisfy the human heart, we should instead look to the Church that God Himself built on solid rock and filled with His Holy Spirit.

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