Creating Corporate Culture: It’s More Than “Casual Friday.”

Posted by Chuck Kocher
On July 8, 2013

Some companies think and talk a lot about their “corporate culture.” Entrepreneurial companies in particular are known for creating environments conducive to creativity and pushing the boundaries. Too often, however, what they focus on are the external trappings.

Sure it’s fun to have a workplace where dress codes are a little loose and where you can play a game of foosball or air hockey to blow off a little bit of steam (if it’s appropriate for the industry you’re in and doesn’t negatively affect the work being done). Real corporate culture, however, goes a little deeper than that.

Dr. David Vik, former internal coach and “Culture Architect” at Zappos, knows a thing or two about creating corporate culture. And his book, The Culture Secret, is full of helpful insights about how to create the kind of culture in your company that will drive success. One of the things that he talks about in his book is the hugely important role that vision plays in creating corporate culture. We sometimes think of vision only in “business” terms (things like market share and profits, and the like). But your company’s vision plays an enormous role in shaping your company’s culture.  And Vik’s insights are worth noting:

Your Vision has to be bigger than yourself and the company, and it has to be about more than just making money. Employees can get behind a vision of making money for a little while, but if the money isn’t spread around, it soon loses its luster.

How can you tell if your company has a compelling and clear vision? One way is to look at your mission statement. Is it short, simple, and compelling—without placing unnecessary boundaries around the company? And here’s a real test. Can your employees repeat it to someone outside your company (or even outside your industry) in such a way that it’s actually understood? And can they do it with conviction or even passion?

Vik offers some guidelines to creating the kind of vision that will take you and your employees where you want to go. He suggests making your vision statement:

  • Current, compelling, inspiring, and motivating
  • Simple
  • Short
  • Easy to remember
  • Repeatable

That’s good advice because what you envision your company being will shape the kind of culture you develop. No vision means a confused culture.

Your culture isn’t what you wear on Fridays. It’s not the accoutrements of your office, or the motivational posters you hang on your walls. Your culture is determined by who you want to be and the impact you want to have.

If you’d like to talk more about casting a vision for your company that will create a culture of success, give me a call. I’d love to talk to you about getting you where you want to be.