The Mastermind culture

‘Real change is cultural change, and you must go about it with the intent to change the culture, not to merely make the easy change, the easy sale.’ – Seth’s post of the day

I’ve been thinking about culture a bit lately – specifically about culture within families and friends – the atomic unit equivalent of culture. There’s a lot of talk about corporate culture but corporate culture is defined and set by the small group of founders – an atomic unit similar to that of a family or group of friends.

Culture, in my limited experience, is one of those things that simply exists whether you attempt to define one or not. If you do actively attempt to define one, you give yourself a shot at creating one that you will be proud of. If you don’t, well, you might be surprised at the end result.

95% of families and friends groups make no attempt whatsoever to actively define a culture. They assume you can just show up and let it happen. In many cases, it works out pretty well thanks to a strong character who inadvertently sets a few “norms” and then again, in many cases, it just doesn’t work out in long run.

But, as Seth points out, real change is cultural change; and I find myself on a bit of a mission to attempt to define cultures for two important parts of my life – my new family and my group of friends. With the family, my wife and I intend to talk through what our “family” would stand for. I expect lots of great learnings from this process.

With friends, we were helped along by Lifehacker’s fantastic article on “Mastermind” groups. Go read it. The idea here is to form a “mastermind” group with friends who want to make a difference. The inspiration is a mastermind group of friends from  Oxford who went on to write some of the greatest fictional works of our age – Lord of the Rings, Chronicles of Narnia, etc. In our case, we aren’t united by the “what” i.e. write fictional works, but by the “why” i.e. to be the best we can be. We are looking forward to seeing how this works out.

Ultimately, the true test of both these experiments in culture will be the strength and longevity of these relationships along with our collective impact on the world. We haven’t done too bad on strength and longevity so far but there’s always room for improvement. I guess it all begins with the shared belief that since we are all here on this journey, we might as well fill it with love, laughter, and learning and make it meaningful, make it count.

Many more learnings on these culture experiments to follow. Exciting times!