Your Culture is Your Brand
As I travel around the world working with executives from a wide range of businesses, I find it very interesting that some understand the value of, and take great pride in, their corporate cultures, while others don’t give them much thought. I have also noticed that those who value them the most tend to do far better over time.
Corporate culture has been the subject of many articles and books for years—and with good reason. Organizations of all sizes and activities are reexamining the advantages a strong culture provides and are coming to embrace the value of a culture that everyone within an organization understands and supports.
But, from the perspective of an Anticipatory Organization, culture can mean more than it might to other companies and groups with less of a future focus. And, in terms of surviving and thriving, that can make all the difference.
Corporate Culture—Yours and Yours Alone
Although specifics may vary, corporate culture generally refers to the pervasive values, beliefs and mindset that characterize a company and, further, help shape and drive its practices. To a certain degree, culture may be defined by, or overlap somewhat with, an organization’s mission or vision statement. Culture may also refer to things such as physical environment, dress code, employment practices and any number of other areas.
Despite the fact that corporate culture may be defined differently, its value and application are much more straightforward.That’s because your corporate culture is singular to your organization, and is yours alone. Products, services and processes can all be copied or mimicked from one organization to another; but the competitive advantage that is shaped by your culture , especially if it is characterized by a shared mindset, cannot be replicated.
Boiled down, it’s really your organization’s DNA. And the ramifications are widespread, from your ability to recruit and retain talented employees, to how consumers see your products or services.
Culture—As Seen by An Anticipatory Mindset
Corporate culture matters to every organization. But, in a sense, an Anticipatory Organization sees culture in a particularly broad context.
To begin with, an Anticipatory Organization has higher levels of certainty, and the confidence to make bold moves, because it knows how to separate the Hard Trends that will happen from the Soft Trends that might happen among other elements of my Anticipatory Organization Model™. Using these and other principles, these organizations foster cultures through which predictable problems, disruptions and new opportunities can be identified and addressed before they occur. In effect, it is part of their cultures to not only be agile, reacting faster than slower competitors to unpredictable events, but to also know how to apply anticipatory principles to accelerate innovation and turn change into an advantage.
In addition, an Anticipatory Organization encourages people at all levels to employ anticipatory thinking—and, from there, build a culture of innovation in which everyone participates in innovation, rather than just a select few. Further, it has a suitable rewards system in place to further acknowledge and encourage ongoing attention to innovation at all levels.
An Anticipatory Organization’s culture can also be defined by what I refer to as a shared Futureview. Futureview is your ability to place yourself in the future and then look back at your present position. Futureview is the picture you hold, for better or worse, of what you expect and believe about your future.
But Futureview’s impact isn’t limited to what you see coming in the months and years ahead. How you view the future shapes how you act in the present and how you act in the present shapes your future. Your Futureview determines the future you.
Take a moment to think how that element of your culture can affect your organization. For instance, some of your employees may have a very positive Futureview—they see a bright tomorrow for themselves and likely connect that optimism with their roles in your organization. As a result, they’re more committed to every element of what they do to help your organization grow and succeed.
By contrast, consider employees with negative Futureviews. For them, the outlook is decidedly less optimistic, and many would say the goodolddays are behind them. They don’t see positive futures for themselves, nor do they likely have upbeat views of your organization. As a result, their present performances suffer. They feel they have little to look forward to, so why put in the extra effort?
In the end, corporate culture is extremely important, but it can tilt in either direction. Which direction do you want your organization’s culture to follow?