Corporate culture isn’t a statement that you write up on a piece of paper and stick in a vault, to be brought out once a year and celebrated. It’s alive and evolving and often changing in ways that leaders aren’t consciously aware of. That’s why culture needs to be re-examined and even rewritten on a regular basis.
That’s especially true when there is a major event in a company— a merger or acquisition, a new strategic directive, or maybe even emergence from bankruptcy. It’s also true for companies that have evolved dramatically from their origins, such as a U.S.-based company that’s become global in scope and operations. The culture of that kind of firm has to be seen through the lens of its new, international stakeholders.
To be sure, the process for doing a cultural assessment is detailed and complicated. But, there are a lot of simple questions that go into that process, and it couldn’t hurt to ask yourself a few right now. Start with these two themes:
- “What are our stories from the past? Do we have founding fathers/mothers? Were there key moments in our development?” These beg another question: Are those founders and key moments still celebrated, or is your organization more focused on today’s leadership and accomplishments? The answer there will tell you whether your past still informs your future. If it doesn’t, you may have the opportunity for a major rebranding or some other large change.
- “What are the metrics we most value?” The answer to this question shows how you measure your own success and, in turn, what types of achievements you’re most likely to reward. Are the most important measurements the bottom-line kind measured month-to-month? Or are you checking in, somehow, on long-term innovation?
After beginning with these questions, you should have a foundation on which you can build a cultural assessment plan and move forward in partnering with someone who can help you execute meaningful change.