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A Recipe for Great Culture

Updated: Mar 30

A great recipe is one that uses quality ingredients, is made with special care, and loved by all who are gathered to try it. It may be an unusual metaphor, but the culture within your organization isn’t much different from a spectacular dish that draws everyone to the table. What if I were to tell you that there is a secret recipe for fostering a truly great culture that will attract more members? Furthermore, what if the ingredients are already at your fingertips?

Culture contributes to the feeling that people get whenever they interact with your organization. Members want to feel positive and secure within the organization and to be inspired by its leaders. They want to feel driven to contribute and participate. You have to make sure all association stakeholders are working together as a team, towards a common good.  

I once heard the expression, “culture eats strategy for breakfast” and it wasn’t until years ago, when I was working for an organization in crisis, that I finally understood what it meant. Within a three-year timespan, we had experienced a 75% turnover rate amongst employees and worked under three different executives. These disruptions resulted in confusion, chaos, and ultimately, discontentment. Board members were disengaged and lacked a presence within the organization. This lack of leadership will directly contribute to conflict within the membership. Strategies were developed to address these problems, but ultimately, the same issues kept surfacing.

Looking back now, I’ve come to realize that although an association can have a beautiful, robust strategy, it will backfire if a positive culture is not the norm. In other words, negative culture will consume an organization, regardless of the strategies that are intended to strengthen it.

The quality of an association’s culture directly correlates with the efficacy of its leadership and the collaborative efforts of its stakeholders. Throughout my career, I’ve encountered several organizations in crisis. I’ve also learned that the recipe for a thriving culture is far simpler than you may think:

Start at the Top

Great culture starts with great leadership. Seek out leaders who are visionaries, passionate about your mission, and eager to prioritize members’ needs and interests. If the culture is positive amongst executives, this will trickle down to other stakeholder relationships, resulting in an environment more conducive to growth.

Diversify, Diversify, Diversify!

A homogenous board can perpetuate antiquated attitudes and behaviors, a diverse board moves things forward with a fresh perspective! Enlist board members that are open to new ideas. A breadth of backgrounds, thoughts, and skillsets will propel your organization forward, serving the ever-evolving needs of your members.


Invest in team-building endeavors that give your board and members the opportunity to innovate and problem-solve. Working towards a shared vision or common goal will give them purpose and a sense of belonging.

Plan Ahead

A succession plan is key when it comes to culture. Remember, the next generation of members is the future of your organization. A NextGen pipeline ensures that fresh, new ideas and perspectives are being brought to the table when it comes to creating a positive culture that will continue to attract new members in the years to come.

The impact of culture on an association and its members, good or bad, is profound. Is the culture of your organization where it needs to be? If not, it’s time to reevaluate and adjust the recipe to create that perfect combination of quality ingredients!

Need an outside perspective on the culture of your organization? We can help you create steps to build a culture that your organization can thrive in. Contact us to get started today.


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