Check out Liz Ryan’s blog on the Boulder Daily Camera’s website, and what she has to say about broken cultures. Her conversation with a CEO was of particular interest, because he started out saying to her, “I must be crazy calling you now, when conditions are so tough in the marketplace. But I think we could be working together more effectively in my company.”

Crazy? From where we sit, the only sane thing to do is devote attention and energy to culture, especially during tough economic times.

Although there isn’t much to disagree with in Ms. Ryan’s blog, we do take issue with her characterization of culture as a “soft and squishy people issue.” Culture is the glue that holds an organization together. Culture is what tells people how to act, what is allowable, how they contribute, whether compliance is the expectation, or whether commitment to the good of the whole is way people should operate.

Our experience tells us that if the CEO really can’t afford to have his best people quitting on him, and he needs “every person’s best efforts,” attending to culture is a hardcore business issue – in good times and bad.

"My instinct says that I'd better dig into this topic now,” he tells her, “before it badly disrupts my business."

His instincts are right on.