Creating Culture From Your Kitchen
A few years back I was designing the kitchen I wanted in my new house. For some folks, that’s not that important. For me, it’s where I live. You see, I LOVE food! And, I love to cook. In fact, when other people come home late and think to themselves, I can just do cereal, I’m thinking, I can make real food!
Growing up, we always had something that we were creating in the kitchen. As I teenager, I worked in a few restaurants, including a stint as a line cook. The older I got, the more my desire to cook—especially for people who appreciated it—grew. It was so much so, I wanted to create my ultimate kitchen in the new house.
I designed it in a way that was practical for someone doing a lot of cooking. But I also designed it so people could participate or watch from a raised bar that was in a curved shape around the grill. It allows me to “teach” as I cook.
While this all made sense in my head, I received a lot of push back from my builders. They couldn’t see how the flow would work. I also wanted a large open wall that opened the kitchen up into the living room, which they thought was crazy. “You need to have a door separating your kitchen from your living room,” they said. “You’ll hate it otherwise.”
I knew what I wanted. And when it was finished, the builder told me I was in the wrong business. He loved how it turned out.
Since then, there has been a LOT of people who have come through the house for parties or celebrations. And there’s one thing that happens every single time. Everyone congregates around the kitchen. It doesn’t matter where. They fill every spot possible. My favorite thing is that they experience life together.
We’ve even tried to move people out to another room from time to time, only to find it unsuccessful. People want to hang in that kitchen area and talk, and eat, and talk more.
I was discussing my kitchen with Jon Acuff and he said, “You’ve really created a culture with that kitchen.” The truth is, he’s right. I knew that I wanted it to be the place where people had a blast spending time talking and enjoying each other, but I hadn’t thought about it as culture.
It’s not a question of whether your company will have a culture. You will. The question is: Will you intentionally create it or accidentally suffer in it? You have every opportunity to shape it the way you want it to be. If you don’t like your sink over there, move it. If you don’t like the curtains on the windows, change them. But be intentional about it.
Don’t sit back and wonder why things aren’t going the way you want. You’re the designer. Get your pencil and paper out and draw what you want it to be.
Question: What does great culture look like to you?