Definition of Corporate Culture
Are you looking for a clear definition of corporate culture? You havecome to the right place!
I have developed a definition of corporate culture after nearly 20years of working with organizations and viewing them from theperspective of a cultural anthropologist as well as a strategyconsultant with an MBA in finance.
The easiest way to think of corporate culture is that it is an energyfield that determines how people think, act, and view the world aroundthem. I often compare culture to electricity. Culture is powerful andinvisible and its effects are far reaching. Culture is an energy forcethat becomes woven through the thinking, behavior, and identity of thosewithin the group.
Corporate culture is created naturally and automatically. Every timepeople come together with a shared purpose, culture is created. Thisgroup of people could be a family, neighborhood, project team, orcompany. 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 inthe start-up of technology companies. They want to work on the corporateculture once the company is profitable or “in the black”. It is muchmore difficult to change the corporate culture once it has emerged thanto 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 gettingpromoted, how the business world is viewed, what is valued, who isvalued, and much more.
Every company or organizations has numerous corporate cultures. Forexample, the marketing department and the engineering department mayhave very different corporate cultures which are both influenced by theoverall organizational corporate culture. Many times these twosub-cultures clash.
Culture shows up in both visible and invisible ways. Some expressionsof corporate culture are easy to observe. You can see the dress code,work environment, perks, and titles in a company. This is the surfacelayer of culture. These are only some of the visible manifestations of aculture.
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. Thecultural core is composed of the beliefs, values, standards, paradigms,worldviews, moods, internal conversations, and private conversations ofthe people that are part of the group. This is the foundation for allactions 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 prioritiesmay only be words hanging on a plaque on the wall.
Corporate culture is actually the container for the vision, missionand values. It is not synonymous with them. In a thriving profitablecompany, employees will embody the values, vision, and strategicpriorities of their company.
What creates this embodiment (or lack of embodiment) is the corporateculture energy field that permeates the employees’ psyches, bodies,conversations, and actions.
Companies need a good definition of corporate culture before they canbegin to understand how to change the corporate culture.