Why is it so difficult to build culture and convince people?

Why is it so difficult to build culture?

Why is it so difficult to convince people of something you know that works?

I often see people struggling with things I've struggled with ten years before but I still can't get them with the correct mindset or see a change in attitude.

It looks like people enjoy experiencing failure on their own only to get to the same conclusions you've been advising before.

What's your experience on building culture? What are your main struggles? What is effective?

  1. 20

    Right now, everyone with access to the internet is bombarded with advice, most of which is terrible. And because of that, most folks don't want your advice. Simple as that, IMO.

    Telling no longer works. But leading does. If you want to create a culture, then live that culture, and your team will follow suit. If it's something that can't be taught by example (and not many things fall into this category), then you can either wait for them to ask for your help — thus signaling that they are ready for and open to your advice. Or create mandatory process around it (i.e. when doing X, you have to do A, then B, then C.

    And this should be obvious, but you need to earn trust. Your team won't just trust you automatically.

    Note: If you're talking about creating a culture with your customers, that's a whole different ballgame, and it's all about marketing.

    1. 2

      Yep, you nailed it.

    2. 1

      great, thanks for your comment.

    3. 1

      Excellent comment.

      I'd be curious for your thoughts on adapting this model to a remote workforce and if the leadership style differs at all.

  2. 5

    Everyone of us has a certain mental image of the world and in some sense it is 'complete'. Otherwise you would be in a perpetual state of anxiety and fear, so the very fact that we can go about our days not drowning in self-doubt at every step is a decent proof for the existence of such a 'map'.

    There are some in built personality fluctuations and some people are more 'defensive' of their mental territory than others, but we are all defensive of our beliefs. Not being right is an attack on our mental castle, and the king can't be naked. So psychologically, phenomenologically even - every time I trespass or breach your map I become an intruder and an enemy of the state.

    Importance of this is not to be understated, because this is a life and death matter. And actually, it is. Your life is an illusion and its being shattered. Along goes your ego, your understanding of the past, your expectations of the future - your life is done. Who are you now? A fool? A loser? A puppet?

    All of these of once.

    1. 1

      A puppet.
      The max we can do is to be a conscious puppet.
      By that we atleast stay away from being a fool/loser.

    2. 1

      Wow , that's some booms.

  3. 4

    We cannot learn until we're ready to receive the knowledge. They might be receptive to your knowledge in the future. But currently, they think they know better!

  4. 2

    Building culture and convincing people can be difficult because it requires a lot of effort to build trust and understanding. People may not always be open to new ideas or perspectives, and they may have preconceived notions about what will or won't work that can make it difficult to get them on board. It also takes time to develop a shared understanding and vision of what success looks like, and for people to buy into that vision. Effective strategies for building culture and convincing people include building relationships, demonstrating the value of the proposed changes, communicating clearly and consistently, and being open to feedback and dialogue.

  5. 2

    Because people don't like being told what to do. It puts you in a position where you're less than the person who's giving you advice and it can quickly feel condescending.

    Which is why so many people love to give others advice because then they get to feel better about themselves. E.g. one of my favorites is "educate yourself" which is just an insult where the speaker is too dumb to recognize that's the case.

    Whatever the exact evolutionary drivers and neuropsychological mechanism, the implication of this is that as solopreneurs we're in a position where we have to give people what they want, not what they need.

    Perhaps you can sneak in what they need later (if you're even right... there's always the possibility that you're just being arrogant in thinking you know what they need better than they do).

    Denying this is like denying gravity. You can do it, but if you jump out of 7 story window, reality will fuck you up in a hurry.

  6. 2

    You need to be sincere in your voice and listen to others. It's not easy listening to others all the time when you have a voice or you know an answer.

    That's a skill that takes a lot of patience.

  7. 2

    I found often that difficulties in convincing other people happen when I don't truly believe in what I'm "selling" :) As simple as that. Whenever I'm totally sure that it is an amazing idea, it gets much better.

    1. 2

      That's a very good point.
      OfCourse there will be people who are capable of selling anything, but most creators struggle with it when the product/service is really not up to mark.
      The moment they correct it things become easier.
      I can correlate with it as once i started a service even though i was not much into it.
      Very soon i have realized that its waste of time as myself not convinced with that idea.

      1. 2

        That's why it's important to stay honest with yourself and not tunnel into what you're currently doing too much. From time to time look at yourself from an outside perspective and check if the direction you're heading to is still correct.

  8. 2

    What a question! Something I'm currently trying to deal with myself. A friend and I literally started discussing this topic about 2 years ago. We wanted to explore belonging and trying to do right by teams. Just for context I've worked in product dev for around a decade or so and have been part of many teams. We really wanted to understand what made some teams feel good and others not so great irrespective of the complexity or interest of the work. We've started building a platform that helps with this for remote and hybrid teams, but that's for another post.

    We did a whole lot of interviews with all kinds of people in different teams and asked them "If you were to walk into a new team today how would you tell if they were a good team or not?" It turns out that the foundational layer of it all was being human. Chemistry was core. So people mentioned things like:

    • They would know about their teammates outside of work, their interests, passions etc.
    • The team would use a lot of communication that wasn't just email, but more personal
    • There would be humour and 'banter'
    • They could feel like they could rely on each other and be there

    To cut this long post really short I think the main problem is the same problem that exists with 'agile' methodologies being applied to every workplace out there. "Ohh cool we use the Spotify model around here."....like that's great but does it work, are people happy? Things cannot be seen as a process you just implement and construct. These processes have to be organic, co-constructed, and created by the team. Edgar Schein did a lot of work on culture in the 60s-70s and a lot of what culture is the unspoken principles, the observed treatment and behaviours, and responses to critical events. There's also great research by Google https://rework.withgoogle.com/guides/understanding-team-effectiveness/steps/introduction/ that looked at what makes a great team.

    In my opinion there are 4 core areas:

    • Connection - how well the team bonds and how deep they get to know each other.
    • Alignment - whether people share in the same vision, goals and how their perspectives align.
    • Vibe - what it feels like on that team (fairness, inclusion, recognition, conflict management etc.)
    • Support - whether I have the right tools and processes in place.

    Anyway I could talk bout this for days, but basically you can't just do things to people, they need to be in the drivers seat and while there are some general principles like you say what works for one team may not work for another. There needs to be small adatations.

  9. 2

    The brain sees meaning first and then infers the object.

    For example, you see a mug of coffee on the desk.
    Your mind sees a drink of coffee and then decides it must be a coffee mug.

    Culture and mentoring help bridge the gap between meaning to object.

    If someone tells you, "I want a drink of coffee." And you respond, "oh, you want a coffee mug with coffee in it sitting on this desk."

    They will say, "No, I want a drink of coffee."

    You've likely connected meaning to an object like the coffee cup for whatever you're trying to teach.

    People may want someone to tell them what to do. Go and get the coffee cup, pour coffee, and drink the damn coffee! But some situations require a more delicate approach.

    Try providing a space for safe learning, for teams, a time-boxed area where several people attempt to learn a better way of doing it.

    For individuals, a one-on-one where you try to understand what roadblock they're stuck.

  10. 2

    Try to determine what kind of audience you have, find the 'influencers' among them, and convince them by talking to them 1:1. Then let these influential people in your team/business to help you get your point across. I think what you need are allies.

  11. 2

    I worked with someone with a long history as a software engineer. They didn't trust the version control system, no matter how much I argued that it was better than a directory of tar files. Becomes head of engineering at a new company - I find out he is insisting on git and all the stuff they refused to do when I made the argument. Was it pride, a revelation, who knows. Just glad they saw the light.

  12. 2

    I've never personally managed a team, but I can share when I've felt motivated by a leader.

    When I've felt inspired and motivated by a leader, it's when I feel they understand me and want me to succeed as a person outside their company. They value me for me and then as an employee.

    When that trust has been built, I really appreciate it when a leader pushes me to reach and grow more. In my first "real job" I felt like there were several of us coming in at the same level. Our supervisor was super supportive and I felt like she had our back. As a result, I was more open and honest about challenges as they came up.

    That helped create more trust and enabled a fun environment in which we could all learn together and hit our team goals.

  13. 1

    I've worked with a lot of startups over the years and I always refer back to one scene in one movie when talking about this. Wolf of Wall Street, Jordan Belfort asks the table to sell a pen. He hands it to Brad, who says: write your name on that napkin for me. Jordan replies, I can't. I don't have a pen.

    I've watch startups with fantastic ideas flop during their pitches, and it's because they focus on their solution. But a lot of founders and creators spent years thinking about this idea, an idea that probably started because they found there was something missing that they needed.

    You have to showcase the problem. Figure out ways to collect data, email and ask people about it. People may want your solution for a different problem than the one you built it for. Figure out everyone's problem, and offer them a solution. If you're pitching - ask someone in the room if they have a problem similar to the one you're talking about.

    At the end of the day this is humanity, and most of us think about the world in relation to ourselves. Show people that you can help, articulate the problem and present the solution. And from there, just listen to people. Listen to your audience, look at the data, hand over your idea to the rest of the world.

  14. 1

    If you are struggling to get people to march behind your idea, or the culture you're trying to create, it sounds like a leadership issue. I had a COO in a past startup who was a great executer but an employee literally told them in a 360 review "If you said we are going to war, I wouldn't follow you." Clearly an issue of leadership. I'd recommend two books to help sharpen your leadership skills. 1. Good to Great by Jim Collins and 2. Leaders eat last by Simon Sinek

  15. 1

    What would you suggest for marketing a casino?

  16. 1

    Best to accept it, and help people fail as quickly as possible. This gives you a window when they will be open to new ideas.

  17. 1

    The status quo is such a powerful force. It's hard for people to see past their familiarity, even to their own detriment. On a macro level, you see this in politics, people often vote against things that could improve their lives. On a micro level, how often do we order the same things at the same restaurants?

    In my experience, the best way to break the status quo is a mix of consistency, FOMO, and word-of-mouth.

    The other thing is people have to be ready to receive whatever advice, product, culture you're offering. I've known for years I needed to get better sleep. It's the most obvious tool for better productivity, creativity and health but it wasn't until recently I finally made this a priority and shifted my behavior because I finally hit a wall with feeling like shit.

  18. 1

    Its easier for people to doubt its in our nature

  19. 1

    It looks like people enjoy experiencing failure on their own

    I am one of them. I can't really put my finger on why, but just knowing something won't generally influence my behaviour, on the other hand experiencing something will.

    Of course this doesn't make a lot of sense rationally - if you want to know what works and what doesn't, the best way to go about it is to analyse a large amount of data points, not just relying on your own anecdotal experience.

    But on an instinctual level, it's just how my brain works. I can mitigate this slightly, but I can't make it magically go away.

    The fact that in our times it is so difficult to collect reliable information about some topics also weighs on this situation I think.

  20. 1

    I do agree. it seems like people are willing to struggle with no result. prejudice of their own thoughts and experiences is the factor many can not welcome other's guidance and experiences. Unfortunately, I have no idea to overcome this issue.

  21. 1

    Obviously the first episode has been hyped up, but I've noticed a strange pattern with many of the accounts.

    Firstly, you can tell which ones are bot accounts as they've been created within the last couple of days (October 2022).
    They also only have that entry in their list and they have it marked as 10/10. They also have no forum pic and pfp.

    Secondly, just about all of them have only 1 forum post to their name.

  22. 1

    I don't want to force or convince anyone to join my community or help build my product.

    If they join on their own accord that's awesome. I know my product works if I use it on a regular basis in my everyday life.

    It's hard to adapt to change collectively as a community. Because once we finally have something why do we need to change.

  23. 1

    its because fear of being lost

  24. 1

    The truth is, there is no changing anyone.
    The bigger question is why do you need them to be convinced? What does your need of changing them, serve within you?

  25. 1

    Among many other things, because is difficult to get people out from old habits.
    And from a certain point of view, I don't blame them: if it works, why fix it ?
    So, instead of trying to convince them, show them the possibilities of an alternative, and let them decide.

  26. 1

    Because they have to convince themselves.

  27. 1

    The comments on this post are amazing and it's great to see a wide variety of experiences here. A lot I've never considered as well. A few things resonated with me when I was once a middle manager.

    Empathy - We all see examples of struggle that we ourselves have conquered long ago. But that journey of failure, struggle, and then hopefully success is exactly what gives you that unique experience. I've found it hard to explain something experienced and convince anyone to skip to the end. Sometimes you need to empathise with where they are in that struggle and just pass on a few nuggets of advice if they're getting lost or deflated.

    Being human - Everyone has their own life outside of work. And not everyone wants to drink the office kool-aid. But I've found that everyone is happy to share a few personal tid bits that keeps them ticking outside of work. Those comments are pure gold. And remembering what those things are is worth even more.

    Crisis - Nothing builds team rapport like a good crisis or incident. It's kind of sad to say actually. I can recall exactly who was there and what they did for each major incident I was involved in for the recent years. I can easily recall the banter during a tough moment, the sympathy for missed family meals, and the collective relief when things finally wen right. They make good stories and inside jokes. Incident fatigue is real, but small doses can bring groups together.

  28. 1

    True that. I thought only I was the one, waiting to get something good out of the answers you are getting.

  29. 1

    If someone shows early strong resistance, I would quit and move on to the next one.

    Once I got the first early adopters, things start getting easier because, 1- I get better at presenting that idea and 2- I can now claim that other people agree with me

  30. 1

    I'm not very experienced with this either, however 2 books I find really useful and valuable on this topic are 'This is marketing' and 'Tribes' by Seth Godin. Hope this helps!

    1. 1

      I was about to suggest the same books!

  31. 1

    How are you trying to convince them, with subjective opinion, or objective facts. I have always believed that data does not lie, so if you can present your point of view backed with data, it is much easier to convince, vs based on broader definition of of what works and what fails because everyone may have their own versions of those

  32. 1

    what hacker dome facebook me cris john seisa domd kid

  33. 1

    Don't have much to add to what @sidjain pointed out.

    It's about how our identity and self-worth are attached to our belief systems and how those belief systems are instilled in us through our upbringing and daily habits.

    Letting go of a belief to replace it with something else is difficult because of the "sunk cost" fallacy. We'd have to admit to ourselves that we wasted years or decades following a belief that is now challenged or even proven wrong.

    Most people won't do that because it shakes up their identity and daily routines too much. I'm not excluding myself from this.

  34. 1

    Because of cognitive dissonance and propaganda.

    If I told you the reason you eat bacon and eggs for breakfast is because you've been propagandized, you wont listen to me even though it's true. You'll call me a cooky conspiracy theorist.

    The biggest bacon company in America hired a man named Edward Bernays to boost sales. Edward spent a fortune paying doctors to tell americans that eating bacon for breakfast was healthy. He turned this into a giant marketing/advertising campaign. This resulted in bacon/eggs becoming branded as the 'all american breakfast' and the bacon company's sales went through the roof.

    Similarly, if I told you that "follow your passion not money" is a PR hoax rich tech founders use to purposely mislead you, you won't listen to me. Even though I have direct experience being with these founders behind closed doors and seeing how things are really done versus what they say in interviews. They start by defining how much money the want to make, extrapolate the market/customer category, then figure out the economics of the marketing/sales strategy, and finally let the customer's needs determine what product to build - NOT their passion. They purposely lie about this in interviews to keep out competition. They want you to "follow your passion" because they know it wont work .

    But if I say this, you'll just get mad, resent me, and think I'm a bad person.

    People want to hold on to their worldview to preserve their sense of identity

  35. 1

    People are becoming more and more cautious when it comes to building a community or becoming a member of one. Perhaps we believe more in actions than words? I am trying to build a community, and the struggles I find is that people have very little trust left! And most of us became cynics.
    I find that sympathizing with other people helps, getting familiar with their struggles and truly giving them genuine advice.

  36. 1

    Why is it so difficult to build culture?

    ---> I think it's about changing the culture - and most of us have an inherent characteristic to resist any change. Because people like to stay in their comfort zone and associate risks with any change. Unfortunate but true :(

    Why is it so difficult to convince people of something you know that works?

    ---> Efforts to convince generally fail. There is a general tendency to like what we find and not what is given to us. When we find something, we get a feeling of achievement and accomplishment.

    I often see people struggling with things I've struggled with ten years before but I still can't get them with the correct mindset or see a change in attitude.

    ---> Same as above :)

    It looks like people enjoy experiencing failure on their own only to get to the same conclusions you've been advising before.

    ---> I think "direct approach of advising and convincing does not work. Leading with example and giving them a sense of accomplishment that they found it themselves, while taking an "indirect" approach to show them the light always works better.

  37. 1

    Culture is a list of principles/values that you agree to follow within your team.

    I believe that the only way to build that is through constant communication with your team. One efficient way is to delegate tasks that can be handled in 10 different ways and convince your teammate that it can only be done a certain way, not because it will lead to a different result but because our principles are the following...

  38. 1

    I'm curious, what's an example of a time where it was difficult to convince someone?

    When trying to convince someone about software tech, for example, there is a lot of conflicting advice:

    • servers vs serverless vs containers
    • languages
    • cloud providers
    • databases

    Decisions about the tech involve tradeoffs, and each engineering problem is going to be different. Sometimes you want the solution that allows you to build quickly and get feedback. Sometimes you need to scale to billions of users.

    Maybe people are listening to your advice earnestly but are choosing a different set of tradeoffs.

  39. 1

    There are a lot of factors that contribute to why it can be difficult to build culture and convince people. Some of these reasons could be because people are naturally resistant to change, it can be hard to get everyone on board with the same vision, and it can be difficult to maintain momentum and keep everyone engaged. However, it's important to remember that culture is built one person at a time and that every small step forward can make a big difference. So even though it can be difficult, it's definitely worth it!

  40. 1

    It's two different questions.

    1. Culture is not built. It's observed. You can't change the culture because you can't change the people. If you don't like the culture, you don't have the right people onboard.

    I advice the books Lost & Founder or Good to Great which talk about this.

    1. Convince people is hard ?

    Very hard. That's why some company are working only with data, other with "emotional leadership". Giving the data to the people you are working with is much more important than giving them advice.

    If they can't read the data and infer the decision which is good for the company, maybe they had contradictory data ? Or was it gut feeling ?

  41. 1

    culture is about walking the talk and caring about people. Its not formulaic. Its experiential and if your not living your values in own life and work then that is the best place to start.

  42. 1

    Folks are stuck in their comfort zone. Like living in a cave, and listen but stay the way they did it yesterday.

  43. 1

    "Why is it so difficult to convince people of something you know that works?" I think the x factor is that the other person has to be ready and open to changing their perspective and release some strongly held beliefs. Sometimes, the more you try, the more stuck they get because then it becomes a binary "I'm right, then you must be wrong." Give them some space, let go of the rope. That's why there are so many sayings like "You can lead a horse to water"... or "let them go and see if they return".

  44. 1

    It's pretty simple. Experience is only useful to the one who experienced it.

  45. 1

    Because people THINK they know better (as opposed to knowing better) as if telling them is like robbing them of their power.
    That is why you need to LEAD and COMMUNICATE well along the way about your expectations, vision, and operations ... clearly, simply, reasonably, and openly ... This will build a strong and clear signal, and when they come to their senses or feel lost they will tune into your signal and start listening. It is an art in itself, and a very useful life skill/hack.

  46. 1

    I'm one of those that "... enjoy experiencing failure on their own only to get to the same conclusions you've been advising before."

    Then I would turn to those in my circle of influence for further insights.

    Following that, I would turn to the internet for more information.

  47. 1


    From my experience people get stuck in their ways regardless of how great or awful it is for their well-being.

    Breaking a habit takes tons of effort and incentive.

    Usually these things are not present.

    My solutions for this are.

    1. Lead by example
    2. Find those who already fit the culture
    3. Get rid of those too stuck

    Culture building is hard. You have to treat it like a product imo.

  48. 1

    Since culture is deeply ingrained into almost everything a company thinks and does, it can be problematic to change culture, even when alterations in the business environment require it.

    Given that, first of all you have to evaluate the current company's culture, there are two vectors that you need to assess:

    1. Does the staff have excessive expectations of themselves?

    2. Does the staff have excessive expectations of the other employees?

    If the answer to both the questions is "yes," then in all likelihood you already have a great culture and all that it needs is some tweaking.

  49. 1

    There are differences between building a business culture (internal to your management group) and building a culture of customers (selling customers).

    Everyone starts from a basis of what they know, and what they know works or not. The stronger that is, the more you will struggle with a tendency to say no (often followed by 'it is too hard to change'). You have to figure out what is necessary to get beyond 'no.'

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