Monday, October 10, 2011

The How-To's of Deliberate Culture Creation

Last week I wrote about culture, specifically discussing if it is created or does it just happen by chance. Most responses I received via comments and twitter stated that culture is created.

So my question to you last week was:

What is the formula for creating a culture that is a competitive advantage for your company?

I wanted to share with you the responses I received and then add my two cents:

1) The values of an organization must be articulated to employees (how business owners want to conduct business)
2) Those values must be cascaded into everyday processes, policies, procedures, relationships, etc.
3) Human performance has to be aligned with the values as a way of doing business.

(thanks to Debbie King of Evolution Management for 1-3)

4) Hire people that are aligned with the organizational values

5) Review values regularly with all employees by CEO (even review at the beginning of team meetings)

6) Employees should be empowered in the decision making process to determine how decisions align with organizational values.

7) Communication and leadership are key in the process. Leadership must demonstrate behaviors that are expected in the organization.

(Thanks to Melany Gallant with Halogen Software for 4-7)

8) Values that truly connect with people's higher aspirations (to improve, to serve, to create a better tomorrow) are easier to build culture on as employees can get behind these. Companies that have a more profit mind set might find it more difficult to build culture around.

(Matt contributed #8, no last name or company)

Ok.. here is my two-cents:

I agree with everything mentioned above. Culture must be grounded in values that drive behaviors. Employees need to understand those values and behaviors and the consequences of not behaving according to values. Managers have to make decisions based on those values and hold others accountable for the same.

Culture is a very delicate thing. It takes constant reinforcement and deliberate "care." But, the rewards are many. Just look at those who get it and do it right....the return is huge.

Who wouldn't want to work for Zappo's? The Ritz-Carlton?

Why do customers love the Zappo's and the Ritz experience? You can buy shoes and get a room's the employees delivering a world-class customer experience grounded in a culture that values the same.


Derek Irvine, Globoforce said...

Great post, Cathy. Company culture can most definitely be created - and proactively managed. As you (and your readers) astutely point out, this is possible through your company values...but only if your values are real in the daily work of all employees.

This is a topic I'm passionate about and that I write on frequently. Just one recent post on the topic is:

In fact, I'm leading a workshop in Atlanta on just this topic - "Build Your Winning Culture of Recognition" - in which I'll help participants build their custom business case for strategic recognition in their organizations.

I would be honored to have you there. If you're interested, check out more information at, then email me at and I'll give you a free registration code.

Unknown said...


I would love to come to your event. I will email you shortly. Thanks for reading and I loved your post as well.

Hope to see you soon!