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Is Your Company’s Culture Telling Your Story?

"Company Culture is the product of a company's values, expectations, and environment." – Courtney Chapman

There was an ancient city called Babel; it derives its name from an incident that takes place several thousand years ago. The people envisioned a great city with a tower, higher than any, built up to that time. The biblical narrative records that God confused their language, so they could not understand each other making the completion of the tower impossible.

Lessons from Babel

"A Company's culture should reflect the original intent of the organization's vision, not contradict it or compete with it." - JSP

The ancient meaning of the word Babel means "confusion – by mixing." Some dictionaries define Babel as, "A confused noise made by a number of voices." Babel's people failed to remain faithful to the original vision given them for settling cities at that time; they instead listened to too many voices.

When Stephen R. Covey's book "The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People" was popular, everyone wrote personal and corporate vision statements. Many organizations had their statements prominently on display for all to see, like diplomas or completion certificates; these "trophies" are reminders of past achievements. In many cases, they no longer reflected the Company's current vision or values.

Just as the citizens of Babel had done, many companies continue building their organizations contrary to their original stated vision on display. Over time, new leaders add their vision to the company wall, contributing to the diverse organizational cultural languages, thus rendering their founding vision irrelevant.

One Vision One Language

In How Corporate Language Defines Your Company Culture, it says that "The words you choose as a company really do define how your employees see your enterprise. The common saying, "You are what you eat," isn't only relevant when referring to health and fitness, psychologists and business leaders are discovering. The exact same can be said of language, meaning what you say and how you say it can have a measurable impact upon everyone in an organization.

Corporate leaders must realize that the power of language can either be utilized as an opportunity for creative motivation and talent attraction, or just as easily turn into an ideological roadblock that hinders growth and success. In other words, they must choose their words wisely."(1)

Let Your Organization's Culture Tell Your Story

"Most people want to hear or tell a good story. But they don't realize they can and should be the good story. That requires intentional living." - John C. Maxwell

Your organization's cultural language forms your employee's vision, values, and behaviors over time, regardless of what is hanging on the wall or written in your company manual. Your Company's daily communications influence how they and your customers/clients see your business.

Babel's people's language became confused because they had forgotten the original vision for establishing their city; many organizations today fail for the same reason.

For better or worse, your current organization's cultural language reflects your personnel's character, values, beliefs, and behaviors from the top down. The culture you have in place is either helping you fulfill your original vision or undermining it. The leaders' language must remain true to their Company's original vision.

Mark Cole says, "A healthy culture is the leader's responsibility. Unfortunately, for many leaders, the health of the bottom line becomes a greater priority than the health of the culture. Ironically, these leaders actually sabotage their ability to succeed because they aren't focusing on their people."(2)

The following three thought-provoking questions from our Master Operating System's Language section can help you and your people be in sync with your Company's vision.

  • Do your team members utilize and consistently understand the language of the organization?

  • Have you created a glossary of frequently utilized terms and have made them readily available to each team member?

  • Do you have an intentional way of helping each new team member quickly adapt to your culture's language? (3)

"Corporate culture is the only sustainable competitive advantage that is completely within the control of the entrepreneur." – David Cummings

End Notes

(1) How Corporate Language Defines Your Company Culture

(2) Mark Cole: Four Characteristics of a Healthy Culture

(3) Learn more about our Master Operating System

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