Does Your Company Have Culture?

The answer to that question is an absolute yes. Your company most certainly has a culture. That makes the next few questions even more important if you’re at the top of your company’s organizational chart. 


Are you able to describe, with a high level of specificity what your company culture is? Are you the person creating, driving and nurturing that culture or did your culture develop by default? And maybe most important, can the people in your organization, at all levels, accurately describe the culture of the organization you lead?


A CEO or top leader in an organization can delegate many tasks but designing and fostering the organization’s culture is not one of them. Culture is driven from the top, the very top, down. Top leaders who understand that have the opportunity to create a culture that becomes a competitive advantage. It also attracts top talent to their organization.


Peter Drucker has been credited with saying “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” This phrase doesn’t appear in any of his 39 books so some people claim the quote is not his but it certainly sounds like him. Regardless of who said it first the fact remains it is 100% correct. 


Organizations that spend tons on strategy while allowing culture to develop on it’s own greatly limit their potential success. 


Despite the importance of culture, research shows few organizations do more than pay lip service to it. While culture is reported to be one of the top three priorities for businesses only 20% of top leaders report investing any time to develop it. This after 62% of them also reported they were primarily responsible for their organization’s culture.


When asked when was the last time they had conducted an internal or external audit of their organization’s culture the vast majority answered never. Most relied on sources like employee feedback or surveys, customer surveys and risk events such as rule breaches, human resources issues and the monitoring of compliance.


If you’re a leader at the very top of your organization you must realize that you can’t simply let culture happen. Your culture needs to be intentional, focused, live-able and meaningful. 


As John O’Brien co-author on The Power of Purpose says: “Culture eats strategy for breakfast but culture gets its appetite from purpose.”


If your culture doesn’t have a purpose and you can’t clearly state exactly what that purpose is then you are likely offering your culture a very unappealing menu. Developing an organization’s culture in not a “time expense” it is a “time investment.” If you’re in the 80% of top leaders not making that investment today then you need to begin now. 

Carve some time out of your strategy sessions and use it to develop what matters even more. That would be your culture!

2 thoughts on “Does Your Company Have Culture?

  1. Steve, I found that most company/organizations have 2 cultures. One is “the public culture” that they proclaim to be their true culture. Their second culture and the one that really matters is the culture that you see in their actual decision-making regarding customers, competitors, employees, leaders and other stakeholders.

    Take a quick glance at the Federal Government (a bureaucratic organization) circa 2016. The Federal Govt. professed to one set of commitments but acts upon another set of “deep state” cultural priorities. You can tell a lot about the culture of an organization when it is faced with a STRONG INNOVATIVE CHANGE AGENT LEADER……JFK RFK MLK Reagan John Lennon….hmmmm! All taken down by a single shooter, of course.

    Ditto for most of the Media, Hollywood, Higher Education Big Tech

    1. Hi Joe, I’m so sorry to say I agree with you. I wish I could disagree with your “two cultures” comment but I am afraid you’re absolutely correct. And that’s a shame. It is however the real culture that determines the ultimate success of the organization and you can’t hide that from the people forever.

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