All About Culture By Design

Company culture is a strategic imperative that must be created and transformed by design, not by default.

This is the first installment of an important 3-part series on company culture that I will be bringing to my Inc. readers. The series focuses on how to become more deliberate in creating a work environment that enables and empowers your organization to achieve and exceed all your expectations. I call the concept that I’m going to share with you: culture by design.

To begin, it’s essential to note that corporate culture determines the preferred way of execution and achievement within an organization. Every organization has a corporate culture. Sadly, many cultures evolve by default, not by design. Consequently, the impact can be characterized by all kinds of strategic misalignment and manifest in the marketplace as witnessed through declining product or service quality, unimpressive customer support and less than stellar financial results.

Despite the fact that most organizations can benefit from a cultural overhaul, there are many circumstances in which a senior leadership team should strongly consider re-imagining its de facto corporate culture and aim to create a culture by design, including:

  • Immersion in senior leadership changes
  • Pivoting in a new strategic direction
  • Following significant M&A activities
  • Responding to a marketplace disruption
  • Managing through the entry to new markets
  • Responding to a damage control situation
  • Post spin-off
  • When going global

If your organization is currently involved in any of these situations, then you may want to seek out the assistance of firms, like mine, that can bring you a leading-edge methodology that will enable you to develop a culture by design.

More on culture by design methods and practices in next week’s article. For now, let it suffice to say that each culture by design work product, of which there are many, needs to be informed by a company’s current state to better define a clear path to the culture that its leaders imagine for a firm’s fervent success. After all, the road map to the future has to start wherever you are!

To close, there is no doubt that company culture is influenced by the preferences and leadership style of the senior management team. But, it is passed down from generation to generation of worker through myth and legend — much like a country’s culture emerges through the stories that its people tell themselves. So, to change it, culture must be transformed deliberately — in essence, it becomes an effort of culture by design. Check back next week for a look at the work products that underpin most culture by design efforts.

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NOTE:  This article first appeared in INC. on September 19, 2016.

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