The benefits of a strong corporate culture are tremendous. With great culture come by-products like momentum, development, and increased shareholder value. But what makes a culture amazing regardless of size? Even though every culture has uniqueness, there are at least six components of great cultures that span our differences.  Identifying and clarifying these components are game changers.

  1. Vision: A great culture starts with a statement of vision. This answers the question, “Where are we going?” Vision is a picture of a future reality. Your vision orients every decision employees and volunteers make. When intrinsically owned a vision statement will orient customers, suppliers, and stakeholders. A vision statement is the fundamental element of culture-making. Here is Habitat for Humanities statement of vision, “A world where everyone has a decent place to live.” Compelling right? And in only 10 words!
  2. Mission: This answers the question, “What is our purpose?” This is where vision goes to the next level and purpose takes shape. Here we add in meaning and the motivation behind the vision. For example McDonald’s mission is, “To be our customers’ favorite place and way to eat and drink. Our worldwide operations are aligned around a global strategy called the Plan to Win, which center on an exceptional customer experience – People, Products, Place, Price and Promotion. We are committed to continuously improving our operations and enhancing our customers’ experience.”
  3. Values: A company’s values are the core of its culture and answer the question, “Who are we?” While a vision articulates a company’s future, and mission articulates purpose, values offer a set of guidelines on the behaviors and mindsets needed to achieve that vision. At Whole Foods here are their corporate values:
    • Selling the highest quality natural and organic products available.
    • Satisfying and delighting our customers.
    • Supporting team member excellence and happiness.
    • Creating wealth through profits and growth.
    • Caring about our communities and our environment.
    • Creating ongoing win-win partnerships with our suppliers.
    • Promoting the health of our stakeholders through healthy eating education.
  4. Strategy: This answers the question, “How will we get there?” This is key especially on an overarching level because here business operations begin to work together. Sometimes a number of strategies are needed at various levels. It is in strategy where we begin to enumerate the details like goals, tactics, and numerical outcomes that will be the targets for the organization. Target has recently decided to open mini stores within their major retail stores – a strategy. Apple mini stores, being one of these strategies, is now hosted within the retail stores as a storefront for Apple products.
  5. Goals: These are the measurement maker. Here the previous four items are put into finite plans that drive a personal or organizational end point. Often these are numerical and futuristic to drive action and behaviors around the above list. Here is an example of a goal from Chick-fil-A Company.  “To consistently be ranked number one in product quality in surveys conducted by Marketing and Research Counselors, Inc., around the following products: Chick-fil-A’s core menu products, including the Chick-fil-A® Chicken Sandwich, Chick-fil-A® Chicken Nuggets and Chick-fil-A® and Chick-n-Strips.”
  6. Narrative: Your narrative is the story that you tell that combines all the elements of above. If you don’t have stories about the above in action, then you don’t have vision.

There are other factors that influence culture. But these six components can provide a firm foundation for shaping a new organization’s culture. And identifying and understanding them more fully in an existing organization can be the first step to revitalizing or reshaping culture in a company looking for change.

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