You might need a Company Culture VP

Having an Innovation or Digital VP in is always a good sign that the company doesn’t care enough to invest deeply the subject. Someone eventually ends up in charge because the board passed the hot potatoe to her. But for corporate culture, that might actually be a good idea…

In the past year or so, with so many media scandals about various company culture dysfunctions, many other corporate cultures being dissected, scrutinised and analysed, and the many advice published online, it seems about time to hire Company Culture VPs to ensure the culture is supporting and not hindering your strategy and image. In this short article, I’m presenting the three key missions of the company culture VP.

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Three scenarios of corporate culture change

From birth to old age, the company culture is not embedded in the same way. Hence it is essential to take a differentiated approach to corporate culture change.

The main reason why a corporate culture change fails is the lack of awareness of what the specific culture of the company is. Although it can be observed via the behaviours of employees, leaders are often blind to it until something unexpected and critical for the organisation happens. As it was the case for Uber and United Airlines. But waiting for such a wake-up call might be lethal as the company may not be able to readjust the culture in time and recover from the public blow.

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A full stack approach to corporate culture change

Avoiding the usual pitfalls of culture change means focusing on coherence and meaning.

Even when most of the “right” ingredients were implemented, most corporate culture changes fail anyway. And the quintessential trap is always the same: the culture of a company is a multi-layered assemblage. Work on one layer at a time (such as the behaviours) and you’ll have results. However, after a while, other layers that were unchanged (values, vision…) will collide and counteract the initial results. These various elements of corporate culture move at different speeds. They don’t even have the same plasticity and are driven by factors that can be very counter-intuitive. In the end, avoiding a full-stack approach to corporate culture change is a rookie mistake. Let’s see then how to deal with it…

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