5 Culture Movements That Are Permeating Your Company

Since well before the start of the Industrial Age, companies have existed by a command and control leadership culture model and hunkered themselves down behind corporate walls of silence.  It worked well, in many peoples minds, until we entered the Internet Age.  Since then there have been a number of movements that have affected that structure and they are actually starting to change those antiquated processes and rules.  Now, some will say this is a disruptive change that is not a good movement however this author believes it is the next evolution of the global business world.  We are going to look at five of those movements so you can see how well you have adapted your company or not!

As we progress through this period we must realize that many companies have a major disconnect between their brand, business, marketing and contemporary culture.  These companies must learn how to use the re-connection as a lever to increase their brand, business and marketing.  Our companies are no longer islands unto themselves, able to drive demand of customers and command employees without respect and a global passion for doing the right thing at the right time with the right people. In the past, your company was able to remain behind the walls it had created and develop products and services that they thought people wanted.  Today, the outside world has a much bigger presence and impact on those products and services. In our interconnected world consumers, critics and competitors have much more influence on what you sell and how you sell it.

Currently, we are at an intersection of Technology, Culture and Humanity where changes are affecting all aspects of our lives.  Many consider this a good thing however without effective collaboration and focus on the greater good, even large enterprises will disappear, replaced by smaller, more agile and more sustainable entities.

Innovation is driving us to seek new expression of attitudes, needs, preferences and behaviors so that there can be a culture of diversity, cooperation and expansion.  Age old ways of doing things are being challenged in many areas of life from work to family.

For example, how has the smartphone changed our lives today? Many will say we have become less social but in reality it is one of the tools that is causing us to rethink the whole concept of communications and social interaction.

How will research in energy change the way we travel and build?

How will research in 3D printing change the complexion of manufacturing even more that it has?

Our current interconnected culture is growing in importance and causing companies to open up the previously locked doors.  It was these locked doors that separated the company from the outside world. Today, a company must understand Relationship Capital, Sustainable Practices and Contributing to the Good of the Community.

Here are five movements that are driving that change.

1. Rise of Consumerism

According to BusinessDictionary.com, the definition of consumerism is:

  1. Organized-efforts by individuals, groups, and governments to help protect consumers from policies and practices that infringe consumer rights to fair business practices.
  2. Doctrine that ever-increasing consumption of goods and services forms the basis of a sound economy.
  3. Continual expansion of one’s wants and needs for goods and services.

To a major degree all three of these are playing a part in these changes however the first definition is one that is causing the largest impact.  People are no longer satisfied with the lowest price; they also want companies to provide them with a great experience, highest quality and a certain amount of concern from the companies they buy from.They are keenly interested in companies that bring value to their lives and to society at large.

According to Havas Media’s 2013 Meaningful Brands index, an ongoing ranking of companies highlighted the fact that its 134,000 participants in 23 countries wouldn’t care if a full 70% of brands disappeared. Because they’re ultimately meaningless nor making a difference in the world.

2. Social Media Expansion

Social media is one of the vehicles that is ushering in much of the new culture thought and as well as all the data it throws off.  People from all walks of live are sharing, reacting to and commenting on what they feel is important and meaningful to them and their families, they are sending signals.

These signals require interpretation. There’s no way to create actionable steps or processes without a solid understanding of the various concerns, rituals, norms, language and systems of belief at play. It’s only with a firm grasp on culture can we begin to make sense of the Twitter retweets, Facebook shares, LinkedIn likes or +1′s on Google+.

It’s culture that helps us understand the hopes, fears, aspirations, anxieties and other underlying emotional drivers of human interaction.  And it’s social media that’s given culture a beachhead inside the corporation.

3. The Human First Movement

Many culturally aware companies are changing the way they deal with their employees, customers and partners.  The human first movement in business is growing because of a simple idea: People relate to people, not soulless corporations.

We seem to forget that a company or corporation can be defined as an entity by government but it only exists because of the people within.  This is an effort to get companies to communicate in a simple, straightforward manner; be empathetic; and create workplace engagement and positiveness.

Some proponents of this movement include Pure Matter’s Bryan Kramer; social business visionary  Nilofer Merchant; and influential business expert Ted Coine, who notes, “This isn’t a ‘people first, profits second’ movement, but a ‘profits as a direct result of putting people first’ movement.”

When employees are excited about bringing their full selves to work–not just the parts that are good at managing and executing company business—they’re inevitably bringing outside culture in via their individuality, their personality, their interests and their values matrices.  As a result, the company can become better connected to the world.

Worker well-being is a critical part of the modern view of management today as seen by the rise in websites to help us as both workers and leaders find a better path. For those who travel, for example, here is a great article on Why Traveling is Good for You from PositiveHealthWellness.  Check it out today.

4. The Purpose Driven Economy

The recent recession has caused many people to stop and ask this question: “What matters most to me?”, “What really counts?”  As a result, we’ve seen the rise of purpose-driven companies, enterprises that are focusing on solving some of society’s most demanding problems such as poverty, literacy, clean water access, etc.

Standing for something of consequence reflects a desire for greater meaning, both in terms of the brands people support and the types of companies they work for. Smart companies are seeing higher profits as a result of clarity on their purpose.

That’s resonating throughout the value chain with employees, customers and fans but the jury is still out on the stockholders. Purpose becomes the needle that threads culture through a company’s constituencies and connects these companies to what matters to the outside world.

5. Redefinition of the Organization

Whether it’s 37Signals’ Jason Fried, David Hansson in Rework, Zappo’s founder Nick Swinmurn, or Aaron Dignan and Undercurrent’s development of the responsive organization, it’s clear that we’re seeing the growth of organizations that evolve its business environment far quicker than its 20th century predecessors.

As examples, Dignan points to companies such as Medium, AirBNB, Uber, Facebook or Amazon that, among other things, have a visionary purpose; make products that are built to evolve; and support platforms that the world can build on.

We are seeing the rise of collaboration and partnering that is crossing borders and cultures.  This requires a responsiveness that a 20th century driven command and control hierarchy cannot support or sustain.  Hence, we are seeing the rise of Holacracy and related flat structures discussed in board rooms and c-level offices globally.

The give-and-take that responsiveness implies—organizations letting more outside culture in, the company moving beyond its traditional boundaries to engage the world more fully—offers a path towards an adaptability most companies have yet to be capable of.

As mentioned, the intersection of technology, deep shifts in attitudes about the nature of work or by organizational structures that align with our hyper-speed, connected world, culture is penetrating deep into the organizations.

This is opening doors for people all over the world if they are open to the change and willing to embrace it. It’s a moment we should wholeheartedly embrace.

If you or your management team are having difficulty understanding these issues, Transformative Leadership Group is prepared to help;  please call us today at 630-454-4821, send me an email at ron@tlgcoach.com or visit our website

Previously posted on August 10, 2014