We tend to think of corporate culture as an idea developed by HR and Marketing departments instead of something that forms organically over time. Even if the company manifesto is hanging on the walls or in the lobby, the true spirit of any business is determined by how things have been done before. To quote Gregory Carpenter, Director of the Center for Market Leadership at Kellogg University, “Every organisation develops a culture based on past experiences”.

The role of ‘past experiences’ means that not all corporate cultures are fit for the future. The way things were done then may have been appropriate given that era, but they may not be sufficient for tomorrow. Just look at the phenomenal changes to how we live and work over the past 10-15 years! Technology, creativity, globalization, diversity, gender equality, sustainability. These are just some issues that have to be addressed in our corporate cultures if we want to nurture our people to be their best.

Building (or re-building) a culture takes time, but never forget why it is important:

  1. Culture keeps people together: It is shared belief that creates a team; having a shared dream helps when times are tough; a sense of belonging keeps people working for you and not the competition.
  2. Culture makes your product unique: It determines what your product should (and should not be); it influences how you treat your customers; it provides your brand with personality.
  3. Culture paves the way for the future: It shows you where you should be going; it determines what success looks like; it draws the kind of people who want to work for you; it tells you what you should and should not do.

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Kevin Roberts

Kevin Roberts is founder of Red Rose Consulting; business leader and educator; author and speaker; adviser on marketing, creative thinking and leadership.


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