Can a Cultural Model be The Business Model?

I had a short conversation on Twitter about ideas and thoughts concerning organizational culture. I thought it would be nice to share it and hopefully get another conversation going.

> Can we first design a cultural model and then the business model? Can a culture be the business model?

Yes, I think so. Pret a Manger, Virgin, IKEA, Pixar, all have cultures that define the business decisions.

Culture model and business model are distinct. Culture model is powerful way to ensure business model success @futurescape

The Culture is the Context. The Business Model the instrument to operate in it.

Yes indeed.

Intersection is the way! As is usual say adaptability. We can not propose a static model because cultyre is dynamic! Intersection means plastic. I think any model will have effect in a small part of culture

I've been thinking similar things, but on an individual level. What's my "living model"?

Interesting. Would like to know more on the culture thought..

> Can we keep a culture alive when business, processes, every day reality takes over?

I think it's a mistake to separate the two. I just wrote my last column for Desktop about studio cultures.

It’s the old dichotomy hierarchy vs non-hierarchy, dominant implies hierarchy. integrative doesn’t. design thinking in progress.

As business scales, does this impact culture negatively? and perhaps its long term success too?

Is culture something we can plan? Or that which emerges from what we do?

If it is true culture, it is expressed in everyday reality. Otherwise it is just someone's vision. Culture = shared worldview.

No way! That kind of dominance is not good. We are free than we can choose, and I choose tradition wen it is good!

Oh, like when people start doing things and be selves? Sure! So what kind of success do we want more of - celebrate that. Process change should support culture. Not always simple, easy, though.

What is your culture if it isn't your everyday reality? Sounds more like organisational or leadership delusion.

> Still many companies struggle with building a strong dominant & sustainable (!) culture

Agreed. To your previous point: a strong culture should drive business, processes and permeate 'everyday reality'.

Culture change needs clarity, simplicity, energy, daily care and feeding - and patience and commitment.

Culture change defi needs patience: time, trust, modeling of success, small "wins" that reinforce the change.

I say that we teach what we learn, than we need to teach in a different way and build in all ability to choose!

> Only a dominant cultural model makes real adaptability possible

Maybe if u use "integrative" instead of "dominant" it would sound better...

Cultural degradation though seriously impacts business. in a sense they are integrated. Perhaps culture defines longevity.

Biz plans evolve but the founder’s practices ensure cultural continuity. as new people come in or leave culture evolves too. e.g. A start-up, based on an idea that is subsequently built. the practices of the founders define the cultural side.

Dominance must be clarified :-) If we see dominance as a leader for sustainability

And you sustain it in two ways: you design it into everything; and then recruit people who will live it.

> And, this might sound trivial, it makes people like their job more

Not trivial at all. Loving your job will motivate most people a lot more than money ever will.

> Should employees fit with the culture? Or can culture be designed to fit with the people?

Here's a video interview I did with Simon Waterfall where he talks about that very question:

If we look to satisfaction and motivation of the employees, and we must, culture can be designed !

Culture is a function of the people /cc

People define the culture. each person brings a unique aspect. for continuity sake, they would have a core similarity.

If we look to satisfaction and motivation of the employees, and we must, culture can be designed !

Zappos - check out their culture book defining their business

DM us your address and we would be happy to mail you a culture book.

Keeping A Culture Alive Or Building A Living Culture

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Comment by Tufan Karaca on March 18, 2010 at 10:38
To me, culture is designed with and by the personalities of the people who are doing the work so the personalities of people designing and/or implying the business model will shape up the culture even if you want or not.

My global experience (I am Turkish and I ran companies in Azerbaijan, Romania, Montenegro and now in Albania) says that ;

Spend some time watching the traffic in the busiest part of a city and then drive there, all the things that you will experience there ( respect - un respect, law obeying - law violating, so on and so forth) is what you will see in the culture of the society, business culture and company culture. Because those drivers are business owners, office employees or managers in the companies.

So model can be set but culture is inherited with and by the people in a company.
Comment by Michael J on March 17, 2010 at 16:52
Ned, Arne,
pretty funny that precisely the same idea comes up about a little book. :-) Must be in the air. The other convo was at Ermgence by Design. the Convo was about social capital or money (as i remember.) What Vanessa did over there that seems to be working ( last three days) is that Vaneesa set up a PBWorks as a wiki framework to focus and disentangle some of the threads. It should be much easier to assemble content, then edit and transform into printable PDFs or ebook format.

The new print tech makes it relatively easy to do massive parallel printing output with a minimal carbon footprint. In Berlin @personalnews and pediapress are leading examples of what's now possible. The organizing concept for the technical specifics is the printernet.

It might be really cool to do a book, or maybe a series of books for the conference. If you add bar codes, there's a way to make books go straight to twitter streams or videos on the web. In my view it's just a transitional technology to get to augmented reality from paper products. Be pretty cool for the conference if played out with some really cool design.
Comment by Arne van Oosterom on March 17, 2010 at 15:32
I think there is so much information, wisdom and beauty in the conversations and stories in this thread, it would be a waste to just leave it down here :-)) Let's think about how we can go about bringing it to the surface.
Comment by Ned Kumar on March 17, 2010 at 15:12
I second your idea Arne :-). We had a similar conversation on another thread - makes sense to do a remix.
Comment by Arne van Oosterom on March 17, 2010 at 14:59
We should turn this conversation into a little book and publish it :-)
Comment by Michael J on March 9, 2010 at 13:58
Thank you for the generous use of your time. Interesting piece. If I read it correctly, it seems that the focus seems to be what people "believe" as opposed to what they do. I acknowledge that I could be misreading it. My point is that culture is best reflected in behavior. To paraphrase Magaret Mead " What people say, what they do and what they say the do" can be widely divergent. Now that you've gotten my started, I'll nose around to try to figure out the state of the art of "CDD"... thanks.
Comment by Ned Kumar on March 9, 2010 at 5:54
I thought you might find this of interest. Unlike the spread-out notes I have from the past, these (especially the book) provide a more focused view of cultural complexity in business.

1) Role of Cultural due diligence -

2) Achieving Post-Merger Success - A Stakeholder's Guide to Cultural Due Diligence, Assessment, and Integration (J.Robert Carleton and Claude S. Lineberry)
Comment by Ned Kumar on March 6, 2010 at 7:38
It is interesting that you bring out the concept of tribes. Quite a while ago, the competing values framework brought out 'clans' as one type of culture that exists in organizations. The clan organizations being less rigid in terms of structure and driven more by vision, shared goals and inward focus (driven by loyalty).

Anyway, you might find this TED talk interesting - Dave Logan of USC talks about the kinds of tribes and implications.

Also, shoot me a note with your email using one of the social interfaces and I will follow up with you on the culture articles.
Comment by Michael J on March 4, 2010 at 20:53
I wonder if it is useful to frame this in terms of tribes. eg. Culture - in the sense of a common narrative to see reality - is created and supported in small groups. A network of groups creates a tribe. A tribal leader enforces and reinforces the emergent narrative of the collection of tribes.

As the tribes become regularized a formal narrative with rules and incentives emerges. Without careful attention and connections to outside influences, this tribal culture evolves into a silo culture. Sometimes the silo culture or the tribe exists in one company. Sometimes many co exist in one umbrella organization. Tribes make alliances, break alliances, don't communicate. If everything breaks down in the presence of outside threats they can go to war.
Comment by Ned Kumar on March 4, 2010 at 16:17
While my last post was more focused on M&A, some of the learnings from there in terms of how to handle culture do come into play even with a single company - e.g when they expand globally (there are numerous occasions when companies, even famous ones, failed to take the national culture into account and ended up in trouble); when there are pockets of generations within the company (the whole GenX vs GenY vs Millennials etc. discussion), when there is a change at the top (again numerous occasions when a new CEO/President/Dean comes into the picture and is in clash with the existing culture) etc. In fact, this last point was one of the reasons why Tony Hsieh decided to stick around even after the acquisition -- to ensure there is a culture continuity.

Your example of Antirom is a great example to underscore one point. As you said, what many don't realize is that the value generated by certain firms is mainly because of the cultural underpinings supporting it. So if someone else comes along and disturbs that equilibrium, it has repurcussions to the point where they destroy the very thing that attracted them to that entity in the first place.

Michael, I will roust up some info specific to cultural due diligence - I should have some materials from my academic days.


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