Why Corporate Culture Matters
How does a business get to the point where employees choose to make good decisions, even in the absence of rules?
Gapingvoid offers two culture consulting engagement options, based on the size of your business:
Gapingvoid SMB: Learn how we work with small and midsize businesses to help change daily office culture, focusing on values-messaging through art. We have built a cost-effective approach for businesses with 5-100 employees to improve culture at every level.
Gapingvoid Enterprise: For companies with over 100 employees, and offices in multiple locations. Culture change on this scale requires a different approach. Enterprise engagements are longer and more involved, ensuring successful company-wide culture change.
To find out more, contact us at 305 763 8503.
Or keep reading about the fundamental thought leadership that grounds our culture consulting:
Defining Corporate Culture
(This is Gapingvoid’s explanation of why culture and values are key to sustainable business, and how visual communications are crucial to culture change. It lays out the “why” and “how” of what we do. It’s a long read. But it’s important.)
Since the publication of John Kotter’s breakthrough change management text Leading Change in 1996, how culture (and change) occurs successfully within an organization has been the subject of many conversations. Time and time again, studies prove there is a tangible upside to creating a supportive, values-driven company culture. Yet, for all the talk, MBA wisdom holds that only 30% of culture change initiatives succeed.
Most corporate culture initiatives are launched with good intentions and flawed intelligence. Case studies show an established idea that culture change is a top-down, one-size-fits all process. This misses the mark completely. Culture forms like a web, not a pyramid.
Humans are social beings. This is how ideas and beliefs spread. People learn from other people: how to behave, what to value, and what to aspire to. In any social group, “the rules” are good for guidelines—but unless it’s a prison, rules cannot be enforced all the time, everywhere. People will be left to do what they’re going to do. In an ideal culture, people do the right thing, even when no one’s looking. Not because they’ll be punished or rewarded but because it’s the culturally accepted thing to do.
This is the level of organizational health that any business should strive for.
Bottom-line advantages of a strong corporate culture include:
- Low employee turnover/ reduced payroll cost.
- Creative/ independent problem solving.
- Personal accountability.
- Enterprise value.
Incentives to establish and maintain a healthy organizational culture are attractive. Corporate culture is a company-wide win. But how does a business avoid the 70% failure rate?
There are tested building blocks that create the framework necessary for culture to spread. They are:
1) The culture story—how the new focus on culture is presented and given context.
2) Role modeling—leading by example, consistently.
3) Reinforcement—organizational incentives and policies that emphasize cultural values.
4) Empowerment—give real ways to help build the new culture.
For culture to take root, you need to build framework and commit to the process. Psychological studies show that for cultural values to be successfully adopted—in a business or a community—there must be constant reminders of them everywhere, throughout the day.
Culture is created by consensus. It’s a slow-burn phenomenon that works through a social group. Cultural principles are tested, modified, adapted, and transmitted by the whole group. But it all starts somewhere.
To begin a basic Gapingvoid engagement we work closely with key decision makers within a company, evaluating the businesses’ current organizational health and culture. We build a narrative that all employees can relate to, not just upper or middle management. We then saturate the work environment with culture messages—focusing primarily on the culture story, reinforcing values, and empowering employees to act on those values.
Suddenly, images (and MESSAGES) are everywhere:
- Art Installations (permanent and temporary.)
- Emails, internal and outbound.
- Personal cubicle art.
- Laptop Decals.
- Downloadable hosted content.
- Custom presentation decks.
- Knowledge transfer/ coaching tools for internal training.
- External social media content.
- Blog content.
(At Gapingvoid, we call these Social Objects.)
Our goal is to create thousands of little sparks, in the knowledge that some will turn into wildfire.
Gapingvoid’s message-coded images are distributed in easy-to-share formats. **Why cartoons? We’re well aware of the contradiction here—cartooning is perceived by some to be a “childish” medium. And we’re talking to business professionals. But cartoons are also the perfect media for messaging large groups—corporate or otherwise. The combination of the right words and images stays in the brain much longer than lengthy text-based communications or lectures, and is also much harder to ignore.
Seeing and sharing these messages leads to new conversations, both internally and within the larger community. Conversations that were not possible before, about appropriate behavior, personal growth, or company policies. Combine this with leadership behavior—unexpected but thoughtful performance rewards, or a renewed emphasis from management on neglected values—all in line with our cultural messaging. The result is true social learning for the whole organization.
With a 70% failure rate, corporate culture is hard. We’ve found that the same brains that are brilliant when it comes to innovation and strategy might not see or have time for the daily life details that come with success and growth. One study has shown that the entrepreneurial personality type—optimistic and innovative—assumes all employees are equally motivated and personally invested in seeing the business succeed. Culture details are then neglected and, unless there is exceptional leadership and initiative elsewhere, conventional zero-sum “get ahead” culture becomes standard. This leads to winner-take-all conflicts, and the result is an apathetic and unpredictably volatile working environment.
Assessing and focusing on corporate culture shows long-term thinking and commitment not found in every business organization. Investing in culture builds enterprise value and brand reputation. Healthy corporate culture also frees executive leadership to focus on business development and strategy, instead of micromanaging and troubleshooting problems generated by broken procedures.
Gapingvoid enjoys a uniquely privileged relationship with corporate culture—being in it, but not of it. We work with some of the most creative innovators and entrepreneurs to understand a company’s needs and shape culture. We have developed tools—based around communication psychology, visuals, and training—that successfully transmit ideas, and we have developed methodologies to ensure those ideas work to support a healthy corporate culture beneficial to business.
How Gapingvoid Works
There are a number of ways to retain Gapingvoid. Most companies with ongoing culture needs engage Gapingvoid on a nine to twelve month basis. These retainers are structured to include licensing of new and customized images, work on integration, attendance at meetings for live drawing, one on ones with staff, etc.
Gapingvoid CultureMail ™ can be engaged separately, as a one to five time a week company wide email. For larger projects, we team up with select change management consultants.
If the need is simply creative, we can develop a suite of work (custom images and animation) to be used in messaging through internal and external channels based on your objectives.
From a single commissioned image, to a deep, ongoing consultative role, Gapingvoid can structure the right working relationship to help you effect real results, quickly and efficiently.
One word on branding: Gapingvoid has a distinct visual style, but our work is not intended to change the look or feel of your existing branding. Our illustrations are simply tools for communication. They can capture the essence and meaning of your brand, they can be an expression of your brand, but they are not your brand.
Hugh blogging on corporate culture: