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  • Writer's pictureVikrant Vartak

Demystifying Corporate Culture





Organization Culture is one of those terms that are difficult to express distinctly, but everyone knows it when they sense it. Members of an organization soon come to sense the particular culture of an organization. Although the concept of organization culture is abstract and may seem somewhat elusive, it is nonetheless real and can have a decisive impact on corporate success and profitability.Every organization, from a small entrepreneurship to a multibillion-dollar organization, has an organization culture whether it knows or not. While strategies, technologies, or products, can be copied by the competitors, it is the strong ‘culture’ that helps endure through generations of management and makes it difficult for competitors to replicate.


Through this blog, let’s try to ‘demystify’ this highly mystic concept. More importantly, let’s learn ways to manage the organization culture.



Complete Article


"If you do not stand for something, you will fall for anything"


On a visit to a Disney theme park, a little girl and her mother came to a fenced-off construction site. To her mother’s dismay, the little girl threw her favorite Disney doll, Belle, over the fence. When park staff retrieved the doll, it was in a sorry state; spattered with mud, dress torn, hair bedraggled. Attempts to find a replacement in the shop proved futile as Belle had been replaced by newer models. So the doll was taken first to a makeup artist, who washed her and styled her hair, then to the wardrobe department, which made her a new dress, and finally to a ‘party’ with other Disney princesses, with a photographer in attendance. Good as new, Belle was returned to her owner that evening, along with a photo album that showed what a great time she’d had during her ‘makeover’. Later, in a thank you letter, the girl’s mother described the moment of Belle’s return as ‘pure magic’.


There is a personal experience of one of my fellow Maven. He had visited the Disneyland Park in California and had bought a three day pass for his family. Owing to an unforeseen development, he had to cut short his Disneyland visit by a day. In a bid to get a refund for the third day, he approached the Disneyland customer service desk and made his request. He thought that he may have to do some convincing to get the refund and therefore started to explain. The person at the desk politely interrupted him midway and said he doesn’t need to explain anything. The fact that they wanted a refund for the unutilized day was enough for them to honor the request! They immediately processed the request and issued the refund.


While such an experience is magic for customers, for organizations like Disney it is method. The theme park team didn’t consult a script nor sought instructions from their manager. They did what they had to do; because Disney has created an organization culture where going the extra mile for customers comes naturally.


What is Organization Culture?


Organization Culture is one of those terms that are difficult to express distinctly, but everyone knows it when they sense it. Members of an organization soon come to sense the particular culture of an organization.


A clear understanding of the meaning and importance of organization culture remains elusive for many managers. Some managers choose to deny the existence of a culture in their organizations; others are intimidated by the thought of trying anything so fuzzy, let alone of finding ways to manage it.


Although the concept of organization culture is abstract and may seem somewhat elusive, it is nonetheless real and can have a decisive impact on corporate success and profitability. Every organization, from a small entrepreneurship to a multibillion-dollar organization, has an organization culture whether it knows or not. The organization culture is much like a personality, in that it changes over time as a result of a firm’s own development or changes in the environment.


While strategies, technologies, or products, can be copied by the competitors, it is the strong ‘culture’ that helps endure through generations of management and makes it difficult for competitors to replicate.


Organization culture consists of values, beliefs, and norms.


· Values are what an organization considers most important with respect to its operations, its employees, and its customers; the things an organization holds most dear, strives for, and wants to protect at all costs.


· Beliefs are assumptions individuals hold about themselves, their customers, and their organization.


· Norms are unwritten rules of behavior that address such issues as how employees dress and interact.


Although values, beliefs, and norms are constructed around a range of organizational variables, authors of the book ‘Growing Pains’ state that, how the organization culture is defined with respect to the following four areas has the most impact on an organization’s success.


1) Customer orientation

2) Orientation towards employees

3) Standards of performance

4) Commitment to change


Kindly refer to the book ‘Growing Pains’ for understanding more on the above four key areas.


Why is Culture Important?


Jack Welch puts organization culture ahead of results. Welch understood the fundamental power of strong organization culture to drive business results, an insight that was also the core tenet of his book ‘Winning with a Culture of Recognition’.


Welch in an article in Fortune said, "Culture matters as much as hard numbers. If your company’s culture is to mean anything, you have to hang publicly those in your midst who would destroy it. Creating a healthy, high-integrity organizational culture is not puppies and rainbows. And yet, for some reason, too many leaders think a company’s values can be relegated to a five-minute conversation between HR and a new employee. Or they think culture is about picking which words to engrave on a plaque in the lobby. An organization’s culture is not about words at all. It’s about behavior and consequences. It’s about every single individual who manages people knowing that his/her key role is that of chief values officer. It’s about knowing that at every performance review, employees are evaluated for both, their numbers and their values.” Welch advocates getting rid of the person that brings in the numbers while behaving in ways completely opposite to the company values. He proposes the following.


· Making culture an ongoing topic of conversation, training, and reinforcement instead of a one-time event.

· Taking the values off the plaque on the wall and deeply integrating them into the daily work of employees.

· Clear rewards – and consequences – for how employees reflect the values in their work.


Corporate Culture & Organization Development


Organizational Development Pyramid (from book Growing Pains)


Have you ever wondered as to why despite umpteen coffee chains, Starbucks continues to be unique? Or despite hundreds of world class amusement and theme parks across the world, Disney continues to be unique?

This is because organizations fail to understand that to build a successful and sustainable organization, they are NOT ONLY competing on their products/services but on each of the six levels of the Pyramid of Organizational Development (given above). An organization must do well on each of these six processes individually and in a consolidated manner.


Organization culture is the apex tier of this pyramid and can become the most important differentiator. Culture has a critical impact on overall organizational success. Culture influences every aspect of the Pyramid of Organizational Development and every level of the pyramid has an impact on the culture. Organization culture has a direct impact on financial performance of an organization.


The fabulously written book called ‘Growing Pains’ is a bible on a very important but as much ignored subject of 'Organization Development'. The book explains how culture changes and how this change process can be managed to maintain an organization’s effectiveness while it grows.

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Connect With Vikrant
 

Vartak Heritage, 100 Ft D.P.Road,

Near Mhatre Bridge, Opp Gharkul Lawns,

Vartak Baug, Erandwane, Pune-411052

vikrant.vartak@thesenate.in

+91 9225619412

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