When we think of the word manifesto we conjure up images of defiance and an almost militant stance regarding a specific subject. It is a position we take in order to effect change or blaze a path. It is gutsy. It is assertive. It is the proverbial line in the sand that says to the world, “I will not stop!”. It is the primal nature of our being declaring a destiny. It is exciting.

manifestoPeople write manifestos for a number of reasons. They do it as a means to stay focused on a serious life change. It could come on the back of a divorce, the death of a spouse, a change in career direction or the news of a terminal illness. Whatever the reason, the common theme is to have a resolve for something.

Originally this word comes from the Latin word manifestus which literally means “proof”. In the 17th century (1644), the word manifesto was used to act as a public declaration which served to explain previous actions, as well as communicate motive for future actions. This served as proof for the rightness of decisions made.

In a modern context, this proof rests in the culture we create in our organizations. Culture has become very public through social media and globalization. Culture has become the organizational manifesto, willingly or not. It is a public declaration which explains actions of the past, as well as announce what future actions should be expected. Although it may not be written down as such, it serves as a manifesto nonetheless.

Does your culture write a manifesto you want communicated publicly?

Here are a few tips to make sure your manifesto is worthy of public declaration.

  1. Make it emotional – A natural outcome of organizational culture is one of emotion. What emotional response does your culture elicit? There are ways to develop culture so the emotions created increase engagement and support organizational goals. Take some time to make your culture a positive emotional connection.
  2. Output, not process – Why do you do things? These reasons become as much a part of your culture as anything else. Are you looking for a win or to perpetuate tradition? Processes have their place, but the real value is in the output of the process, not the process itself. It becomes too easy to forget this common sense perspective.
  3. Sit in a different chair – Don’t view your organizational culture from your title or position. How does your culture look and feel to a front line employee/manager? What about a customer who misunderstood something and needs some support and a bit of grace in providing a solution to their problem. Is that the culture you want as your public declaration? Is that the explanation and motive you want defining your brand? A different perspective is important.
  4. Ask questions – Finally, make yourself a good leader and be vulnerable. Give people in your organization the opportunity to share their frustrations with you about the culture. Perhaps it isn’t all beer and skittles, like you imagine. Set your ego aside long enough to consider parts of your culture may suck, it may be your fault and you have to do something about it.


What else would you add to this list for creating a better manifesto?