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The Power of Corporate Culture

I had the opportunity to attend a company reunion recently. The company was a key and innovative player in what became the Enterprise Resource Planning software market as they grew from inception to over a billion in revenue before being acquired by a larger player in their space. At one point this company was one of the largest privately held software companies in the world and they were repeatedly recognized as one of the very best companies to work for worldwide.


As I met with former colleagues and we shared common stories, some consistent themes emerged. Nearly everyone I spoke with shared a variation on one or more of these experiences:

1. They did some of their best work at this company.

2. They were never more fulfilled than they were during their time with this company.

3. They chose to work for this company despite offers to make more money elsewhere.

4. The relationships they developed with colleagues, clients, customers and partners have endured long after the company name ceased to exist and long after many of them moved on to other pursuits.

So why do alumni from this company champion reunions and why do so many alumni share their versions of the four ideas above? Because this company recognized the importance of establishing a positive corporate environment and they understood the impact a positive culture has on company performance. By formally proclaiming and aspiring daily to live up to a series of important shared values, this company achieved a reputation for being great. 

Here are just a few of the key tenets of this company’s formal, documented culture statement, paraphrased to protect the integrity of the founder’s original and very thoughtful list that I’m sure is hanging in the offices of some of the alumni today.

1. Aspire to do the right thing every day.

2. Run a profitable business, but don’t be greedy.

3. Don’t sacrifice quality for short term success.

4. Employees are the most important asset of the business.

5. Set realistic expectations with customers and over deliver.

6. Grow at a manageable pace.Don’t lose sight of the company culture.

If you want the very best from your employees, lower turnover and customers who want to buy from you again and again, consider looking internally at your own behaviors and work to align your company culture to these seven ideals. They seem simple enough, but you may find they are also easy to compromise. Don’t compromise on any of them, and you might find yourself working for the very best company in your world while having the best experiences of your career.