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Faculty & Research


Build a Corporate Culture That Works

Journal Article
There’s a widespread understanding that managing corporate culture is key to business success. Yet few companies articulate their culture in such a way that the words become an organizational reality that molds employee behavior as intended. All too often a culture is described as a set of anodyne norms, principles, or values, which do not offer decision-makers guidance on how to make difficult choices when faced with conflicting but equally defensible courses of action. The trick to making a desired culture come alive is to debate and articulate it using dilemmas. If you identify the tough dilemmas your employees routinely face and clearly state how they should be resolved - “In this company, when we come across this dilemma, we turn left” - then your desired culture will take root and influence the behavior of the team. To develop a culture that works, follow six rules: Ground your culture in the dilemmas you are likely to confront, dilemma-test your values, communicate your values in colorful terms, hire people who fit, let culture drive strategy, and know when to pull back from a value statement.

Professor of Management Practice