Language and culture

One of my favorite excerpts about culture in Will Guidara’s “Unreasonable Hospitality” was about the unique language they used in Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group.

“Constant, gentle pressure” was Danny’s version of the Japanese phrase kaizen, the idea that everyone in the organization should always be improving, getting a little better all the time.

“Athletic hospitality” meant always looking for a win, whether you were playing offense (making a great experience even better) or defense (apologizing for and fixing an error).

“Be the swan” reminded everyone that all the guest should see was a gracefully curved neck and meticulous white feathers sailing across the pond’s surface – not the webbed feet, churning furiously below, driving the glide.

“Make the charitable assumption” was a reminder to assume the best of people, even when (or perhaps especially when) they weren’t behaving particularly well.

The simplest way to describe culture is the phrase “this is how we do things here.” And all these phrases made it easy for everyone at USHG to understand that how.

Language creates culture.