Business Culture: The Hidden Key To Success


What separates a good company to an extraordinary company? The answer is not a well-defined strategy, or even a key inspirational leader although these are important. Creating a successful company requires a business culture that works for everyone. This is something that is often ignored, yet according to James L. Haskett, culture can account for 20% to 30% of the differential in corporate performance when compared to uncultured companies. So, what is needed to become cultured, there is no hard and set answer but here are some things that I feel are relevant.


If you look at many corporate mission statements, you will find yourself bored with generic text about the aims of the company. A well-written mission statement that conveys the aims of the company simply and clearly can go a long way in giving employees the knowledge of the core values that they are required to represent. It allows everyone to work together to an understood common goal rather than be pigeonholed into a specific department.

Open and understandable mission statements can go a long way, but these values also must be attributed to yourself. Google, a pioneer in company culture advocates that all employees have open access to each other’s individual goals for the month that everybody is forced to right. This means that everyone knows what everyone else is working on, allowing greater collaboration and improves the value of goal sharing. It is scientifically proven that people are more productive with set goals, and the open nature of these goals allow increased productivity, which drives business growth.


If you look at your typical corporate company, its structure is remarkably similar to that of an army. With the general/CEO at the top all way down to the recruits with numbers and number of complex layers in between. This works in the army where the top-down command is passed down to ensure discipline and order, but it comes at the cost of creativity. This will allow incremental growth to an extent, but what if an employee has a revolutionary idea.

In this structure, it will never blossom into the full potential that it holds due to the need to be passed up the command line. Google aims to flatten its hierarchy, giving an employee access to senior employees so they can make things happen. Creativity is put forward, and even if not all the ideas are good the chances of monumental change are greatly increased with each employee feeling more valued and able to contribute to the company as a whole.


Meritocracy. Nothing more and nothing less. Meritocracy is when those with the best ideas and the best suited and knowledgeable about a topic make the key decisions. If we look at a technological company. The underpaid programmer knows far more about the ins and outs of the code that is the core of what drives the business, he knows what is needed to change and how to do it. Logically he should have an important role in the decision-making process.

I am not promoting anarchy, with no structure, but those who know what they are doing are the ones that should be involved in making decisions as well as the executives. Strangely, what often happens is that the highest-ranking employee with the highest pay grade or the one who has been here longest is the one who calls the shots, not the one with the best insight and ideas to help the business. This needs to be changed.

Incorporating a good business culture involves more than these three ideas and it can often take months, if not years to incorporate these into the nature of the employees. However, it is something that should not be ignored, as corporate culture is what sets apart companies such as Google and Apple from the mediocre.