The vital link between culture and language (or why you need Maude in your life)

“Can someone please grab Maude from the storeroom, we have to record this!”

Businesses with a strong culture often have a very unique language. And it’s on purpose. If you listen in to a conversation happening between two TPCers (members of The Physio Co team), you’ll probably have trouble understanding what on earth they’re talking about.

“Who the hell is Maude and why is she in the storeroom?” you’d have to ask.

The number one priority at The Physio Co (TPC) is to build a strong family culture. We’ve been obsessing over culture for years and we deliberately give a unique, memorable and ‘TPC’d’ name for all sorts of things, including people, processes, meetings, rooms and even inanimate objects!

Some examples:

  • The person responsible for coordinating our South Melbourne Support Office used to be known as our ‘support office coordinator’ (boring!), that person is now known as our ‘creator of energy and inspiration’. The new title not only perfectly matches Jess’s personality but it also comes with more responsibility: to live up to her title, Jess has to add energy to our office every day. Perfect!
  • The Physio Co uses a meeting rhythm that includes daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly and annual meetings. Those meetings are known as ‘To the Point’, ‘Nutting it Out’, ‘S.W.A.R.M’ and ‘The Quarterly’.
  • A TPCer in our support team could easily describe their priorities for any day as: (1) Present my department spotlight at To the Point (2) Call TPCers Seon and Mike to lock in The Quarterly’s next week and (3) Finish my one page report for November S.W.A.R.M happening on Thursday.

When you’re having to explain lots of terms you use to describe people, meetings and processes in your business, you may well be on the way to building a strong culture. Not simply abbreviations, acronyms and industry jargon, no, the language of a business with a strong culture is much more memorable and sometimes just completely weird. Perhaps closer to the language of a cult: After all, the first four letters of culture do spell ‘cult’. In a way, an organisation with a strong culture resembles something between a business and a cult.

A unique language is just one of the building blocks we have used to build a strong culture at The Physio Co. Do you have some unusual language or ritual that you use to build a strong culture in your business? Please let me know or ask a question in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you.

By the way, ‘Maude’ is otherwise known as The Physio Co’s handy cam. She lives in the TPC Storeroom and comes out on special occasions.

Tristan White is a husband to Kimberley and a dad to little Alexandra. He’s a qualified physiotherapist, ironman triathlete, blogger and CEO of The Physio Co – Australia’s eighth Best Place to Work. His passion is to build a strong family and workplace culture and share what he learns with the world. Tristan’s Culture is Everything blog was ranked by SmartCompany as one of Australia’s 25 Best Business Blogs in 2011.



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