Riblet#21: Your Culture is a Control (but it may be a weakness)

The culture of an organisation or of a country can act as a powerful control.  If culture is “the way we do things around here” and if those cultural habits are positive, they will benefit the organisation or country, and require less encouragement to do the right thing, let alone require policing.

Borrowing something from other organisational or national cultures may take a while to embed, but once it does, it may well bring great benefits to your own culture.
It can be particularly positive with regard to hygiene controls.

Apparently, people in the Netherlands only wash their hands 50% of the time after using the toilet.  Italians aren’t much better at 57%*.  People in Turkey, however, do so 94% of the time, a level only topped in Europe by Bosnia and Herzegovina.

And Turkish people also love cologne.  They will sprinkle it on the hands of guests to their home, waiters will do the same for customers in restaurants, and likewise bus attendants for passengers on long-distance routes.  Since cologne is mainly alcohol it acts as a disinfectant.  Now with coronavirus, Turkey has promised cologne to the elderly, supplies have been safeguarded, stocks maintained, and prices held low.  And sales at one online retailer have soared 3,400%.

When you already have a powerful cultural control, you don’t need constant public service announcements reminding people to do something such as wash their hands; it’s a control that is already embedded in the culture.

Data Source: The Economist magazine

* The data source did not disclose the figure for the UK, however there are a number of surveys and results of monitoring for the UK by age ranges and by gender that are posted on the internet.  The figure for hand-washing after using a toilet among British males is 32% and for British females, 64%.

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