Business Optimisation

What is Organisational Culture and why do we care?


Not long ago we looked at the Forrester Research report that identified “Organisational Culture” as being THE MOST challenging factor when is comes to success in the CX space.

So what is Organisational Culture and how do we change it?

The most common definition of Organisation Culture sounds something like:

Organisational culture is an array of shared assumptions, values, and beliefs, which governs how people behave in organisations. These shared values have a strong influence on the people in the organisation and dictate how they dress, act, and perform their jobs.
If anyone has ever worked in a toxic work environment [figuratively speaking], you may have noticed a culture that held:
  • a lack of openness and honesty
  • no clear vision from the leadership
  • double standards for some employees
  • a reluctance to embrace change
Flip these values around and you’ve got the foundation for a healthy work culture.
But why do we care!?
Because the organisations that can articulate why they exist on terms that have nothing to do with their business functions, are the ones that have an unbalanced amount of success, an unbalanced ability to innovate and an unbalanced amount of loyalty from employees & customers.
Suddenly, WHY you do what you do is very important. More important than what or how you do it.
Organisational culture takes time to develop, it can’t be bought, it needs to be nurtured from the top down.
Simon Sinek does an amazing job at explaining this in his ‘Start with Why’ talk.

Sinek goes on to explain the key to the Wright Brothers success is in their beliefs.

We expect the ingredients for a failed venture to look like:

  • Undercapitalisation
  • The wrong people
  • Bad market conditions

Before the Wright Brothers won the race to the sky, Samuel Pierpont Langley had all of the *right ingredients for his aviation project. He was given $50,000 from the war department, money wasn’t a problem. He held a seat at Harvard and worked at the Smithsonian, he was extremely well connected, and he hired the biggest minds he could find, and the market conditions were perfect.

The Wright Brothers didn’t have the things you would consider to be in the recipe for success. They had:

  • No money
  • No college education

The Wright Brothers had a dream. They believed they could change the world. They chased the dream, not the paycheque.

The day the Wright Brothers took flight, Samuel Pierpont Langley quit. Samuel wanted to be rich and famous. He wanted the result of the Wright Brothers’ success, and in failing to achieve it, he didn’t try to innovate on their success, he lost the race and quit because the things that drove him were gone.



Culture is a fluffy metric, but it does exist. It’s the unspoken laws that dictate collective behaviour, it’s really difficult to articulate and even more so to measure. However, for many companies it is the difference between success and failure.

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