Culture at Work

cultureatworklogo-nobgA bi-weekly podcast featuring author, consultant, and business anthropologist, Madeline Boyer, discussing how the same cultural phenomena that you encounter in your everyday life can apply to the workplace. Madeline uses examples from her own life, shared from an anthropological viewpoint, to demonstrate the subtleties of culture at work.

Follow Culture at Work on iTunes and Stitcher for weekly observations and anecdotes, and be sure to check our Tools page for takeaways that will help you establish your best culture.

Let Madeline know how you feel about the show by following her on Twitter @MadelineBoyer, and follow @PercipientTeam for the latest news from Percipient Partners.

Rituals: The Meeting (First in A Series of Five)

In classical anthropology, culture is defined as the system of shared beliefs, values, symbols, and rituals that are socially learned and transmitted. In this episode, Madeline reflects on a national ritual, and discusses the first of five explorations into workplace rituals—the meeting. Listen Below:

In this episode, I mention 5 key questions to help you decide whether or not you should schedule a meeting. Click Here to download the meeting checklist with all five questions.

This week’s Culture At Work challenge:
Tell your best meeting stories–which were the most productive? Which were the worst?

Share your thoughts on Twitter with @madelineboyer #cultureatwork


Mergers & Acquisitions

Madeline talks about placing culture at the forefront when considering entering into M&A negotiations. Listen below:

In the episode, I mentioned using word clouds as a quick diagnostic tool for comparing cultures.

Here’s an example of comparing word clouds from two organizations I have worked with:

Company ACompany B
Word Cloud1Cloud 9

In this format, you can quickly see that:

  • Company A emphasizes a traditional, conservative, and complex culture
  • Company B is focused on process, (taking its) time, and product

At first glance, these two cultures seem fairly compatible, as traditional and conservative cultures tend to be a little slower moving and focused on process and procedure. However, looking at the next level of words tells a slightly different story.

  • Company A is described as collaborative and caring
  • Company B is driven by sales and accounting

I would immediately want to ask more questions about the values each company has: is a results-driven culture compatible with one that is more focused on relationships?


You can use this tool for assessing differences between teams, departments, or potentially merging organizations. My favorite online tool for creating word clouds is because you can create an account and save word clouds to reference later.


This week’s Culture At Work Challenge:

What are three words that describe the Culture At Work in your organization?

Share your industry and those three words on Twitter with @madelineboyer #cultureatwork


The View from the Outside

In this inaugural episode, Madeline defines anthropology, talks about her family, and explains why an outsider perspective can help organizations make decisions.


This week’s Culture At Work challenge:

Think about one thing at work that you might only describe as “the way we do things around here.” Is everyone consistently 3 minutes late to meetings? Does everyone wait for that one person to give their opinion first before chiming in? Try to push yourself to think about why that’s the way it’s done, how that practice came to be, who are the influencers that keep it going, and who may be the detractors who disagree.

Share your thoughts on Twitter with @madelineboyer #cultureatwork