Corporate culture 2.0

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

Corporate culture is one of those terms that has been so overused that it has lost some of its meaning.  The traditional definitions of corporate culture were along these lines (to mention a couple of examples):

  • A set of norms, values and way of thinking that characterize the business activity, its focus and way of addressing problem resolution (Pumpi)
  • A set of values that form the core of the corporate identity (Peters, Watermann, Deal and Schein)

When assessing what the culture of a company was, the following points were considered:

  • The company or corporate identity: ‘who we are’
  • The values, the way of doing things: ‘how we think’
  • The strategic entity: ‘how we do things’.  At this point, the ‘who we are’ and ‘how we think’ must coincide with the ‘how we do things’.

To all of this, we can add a series of indicators for measurement purposes and a few guidelines to follow for its communication.  By definition and recommendation, we could say that the classic model is still valid, though its transmission, which has varied in some places, has become obsolete.  The problems come fundamentally from the following:

  • Many companies took the approach of keeping up appearances (creating a mission, vision and values) but then behaved in a completely different manner.  This can occur inwardly behind closed doors (problems with the work atmosphere) as well as outwardly (reputation crisis).
  • There is still a very low market penetration and lack of knowledge of the use of 2.0 tools.  The problem is that the employees are in the 2.0 world while there are many companies that are still not (or they are not being genuine about it).  There are even companies that ban the use of social networks during working hours.
  • Communicating the corporate culture was usually the responsibility of the “Human Resources” department, which would draw up a plan, select a few actors and the channels and transmit this to everybody else (again, this would take place internally and externally).  Yet another method that is falling into disuse.

Again we find that the network society, the online society moves a lot quicker than a corporate culture plan. By the time HR has had a chance to meet, employees in contact with one another via social networks have already been able to create a viral, for example.  Some companies specifically prohibit some of those practices but cannot avoid them completely.  In the same way, the external client can also provoke a reputation crisis in just three “tweets”.  If you recall, this is what happened with the case of Dave Carrol and United Airlines over a broken guitar.

Organisations cannot resist change forever.  There is an increasing demand for transparency and if you are not willingly transparent, you will be by force. This is why it is so important to be coherent in the first place.  Sooner or later, you will be caught if you are seen not to be making any sense.  Once this is clear, the correct use of social tools must be made in the public ones (FacebookTwitter…) as well as the internal ones (YammerGoogle docs, Intranets,  Zyncro…).  You may find for some reason that your company cannot find a motive for justifying presence in an external social network, but it cannot have any reason for not having an internal one.  It is almost the same as saying that you have no interest in your employees communicating with each other, being able to share and create together, to come together as teams, to be able to even work from home on occasion. What you are saying in some way or another is that you are not interested in listening to their opinions…  And when people are not listened to, they often end up making themselves heard.  In the end, the real corporate culture is not that portrayed on the website or in pamphlets or adverts or posters…  Your real corporate culture is the one that each and every one of your employees demonstrates by their actions.

Do you think that a corporate culture can be imposed?  Do you make tools available or are there tools available for you to be able to connect with everyone else?