Case Study 119 – Part 9

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Corporate culture that sticks

To date, Company X has gone through an incredible transformation. Like many of our clients, they needed to take small steps toward organizational (awareness) evolution before we could speak to their talent initiative. More specifically, their talent brand. First, we asked the tough questions, revealing the complete disconnect beginning and ending at the top. Then we dove into the construction of brain-based corporate statements that could better align the employee population to their direction and goals. Most recently, we’ve discussed core value statements that when done right, can serve as the “North Star” for the company, guiding employees to better achieve the new Company X vision and mission.

Now we write the core values, right? Our specialists made note that the executive team of Company X was ready to take that step. However, there is one missing piece to this puzzle. A truly defined corporate culture. Much like the air we breathe, it’s invisible, yet incredibly necessary. If not defined, it remains unknown to the employee population, and all the work to date could falter due to lack of clarity.

What is corporate culture?

Corporate culture refers to the beliefs and behaviors that determine how a company’s management team and employees interact and handle how the organization functions from day-to-day. Often times you’ll see that corporate culture is implied, not expressly defined, and typically runs the risk of employee confusion as it relates to all other company statements.

There are many kinds out there, here are a few:


  • Traditional: This type of culture typically has a top down hierarchy. There is someone at the top who makes rapid decisions and controls the organizational direction. Then the information trickles down to the rest of the employee population.Corporate Culture
  • Role based: In this culture, structure is defined. This creates an organization where individuals know their job, report to their defined management, and value efficiency above all.
  • Team based: Teams are typically formed to work on a particular company problem. These teams work together as their own subsection of the organization, almost as if to run their own small business. Empowered by management, more decision making ability sits with the employees, engaging everyone in the company direction.
  • Horizontal: Each individual is seen as valuable and important. Everyone has equal input, and decisions are made after each individual has weighed in on company issues. This creates a more competitive atmosphere where individual voices are always heard.

What did Company X pick?

After engaging with the executive team, they came to the discover just how important committing to, with clarity, the type of company culture they would need to best fulfill the company’s strategic objective. Gone were the days of allowing the invisible hand of employees to define it. They needed to put an end to their top down structure where only leaders were engaged, and employees were told to follow. Instead they recognized that in order to receive valuable feedback at all levels, they had to take a different approach. Ultimately, our research reinforced the selection they chose for their culture. So what culture did Company X pick?

Company Culture


As you can see, Company X chose to utilize a team culture, but borrowed a little bit from the horizontal structure as well. They wanted more power of suggestion placed throughout their employee population, rather than housing all of the decision making abilities at the top. However, the tough part is implementing. Time, effort and care needs to go into nurturing this culture because Company X now knows that they have to build it, not set it and forget it. The next step: writing the core value statements that help align everyone to these new organizational structures. We’re getting ever closer to finalizing their talent initiative.

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