Culture

by Jo Geraghty and Derek Bishop

Introduction

Whatever business sphere you are in, it’s a fair bet that there are companies large and small across the world all offering similar products or services. If I want bread, I can source wheat from the local farmer and make the bread myself; I can visit a local artisan baker and take advantage of their expertise, or I can buy bread which has been mass produced from a local or national retailer.

So is bread just bread? Well, all bread may contain the same basic ingredients, but it is the skill with which it is prepared, the knowledge and care which went into the choice of ingredients and the way in which the bread is presented and sold which differentiates one brand from another.

In an increasingly homogenous world, when virtually every business can access the same technology and basic ingredients, customers and employees are looking for that extra something which will differentiate one business from another. That something is the culture. Sometimes referred to as the DNA of the business, the culture is what enables one business to succeed while another fails; it is what attracts good employees and it is what binds loyal customers to the brand.

In this topic, we’ll take a look at organisational culture and its importance, examining the way in which culture can affect every aspect of a business, from employee and customer to reputation and integrity. We’ll then move on to establish some of the forces which may drive leaders to revisit or change the culture and we will follow this with a look at managing and leading culture change.

Some of this topic, by its very nature, may be seen by many as sitting high up in the leadership spectrum, but this is far from the truth. Everyone, from the newest recruit through to the CEO, has a responsibility for ensuring that the culture stays on track to enable the organisation to deliver greatness. That means that, while the senior team may look to overview and reset the culture, team leaders (and divisional leaders particularly) also play their part.