Are you looking for a clear definition of corporate culture? You have
come to the right place!
I have developed a definition of corporate culture after nearly 20
years of working with organizations and viewing them from the
perspective of a cultural anthropologist as well as a strategy
consultant with an MBA in finance.
The easiest way to think of corporate culture is that it is an energy
field that determines how people think, act, and view the world around
them. I often compare culture to electricity. Culture is powerful and
invisible and its effects are far reaching. Culture is an energy force
that becomes woven through the thinking, behavior, and identity of those
within the group.
Corporate culture is created naturally and automatically. Every time
people come together with a shared purpose, culture is created. This
group of people could be a family, neighborhood, project team, or
company. Culture is automatically created out of the combined thoughts,
energies, and attitudes of the people in the group.
I have worked with entrepreneurs and venture capitalists involved in
the start-up of technology companies. They want to work on the corporate
culture once the company is profitable or ?in the black?. It is much
more difficult to change the corporate culture once it has emerged than
to proactively create the corporate culture they want from the start.
The corporate culture energy field determines a company?s dress code,
work environment, work hours, rules for getting ahead and getting
promoted, how the business world is viewed, what is valued, who is
valued, and much more.
Every company or organizations has numerous corporate cultures. For
example, the marketing department and the engineering department may
have very different corporate cultures which are both influenced by the
overall organizational corporate culture. Many times these two
Culture shows up in both visible and invisible ways. Some expressions
of corporate culture are easy to observe. You can see the dress code,
work environment, perks, and titles in a company. This is the surface
layer of culture. These are only some of the visible manifestations of a
Surface Layer of Corporate Culture: Visible Expressions
? Dress Code
? Work Environment
? Work/Life Balance
? Titles & Job Descriptions
? Organizational Structure
The far more powerful aspects of corporate culture are invisible. The
cultural core is composed of the beliefs, values, standards, paradigms,
worldviews, moods, internal conversations, and private conversations of
the people that are part of the group. This is the foundation for all
actions and decisions within a team, department, or organization.
Core Layer of Corporate Culture: Invisible Manifestations
? Private Conversations (with self or confidants)
? Invisible Rules
? Moods and Emotions
? Unconscious Interpretations
Business leaders often assume that their company’s vision, values,
and strategic priorities are synonymous with their company’s culture.
Unfortunately, too often, the vision, values, and strategic priorities
may only be words hanging on a plaque on the wall.
Corporate culture is actually the container for the vision, mission
and values. It is not synonymous with them. In a thriving profitable
company, employees will embody the values, vision, and strategic
priorities of their company.
What creates this embodiment (or lack of embodiment) is the corporate
culture energy field that permeates the employees’ psyches, bodies,
conversations, and actions.
Companies need a good definition of corporate culture before they can
begin to understand how to change the corporate culture.