How Effective Is Your Positive Organizational Culture?

improving business culture, Zappos

“To make customers happy, we have to make sure our employees are happy first.” Zappos

In Entrepreneur Magazine Richard Branson gives an excellent response  to a question on creating  business culture. He writes:

Anyone who has followed the Virgin story knows that our company culture has driven our success. As I’ve written in the past, our team inadvertently created Virgin while we were lolling around on beanbags at our first record shop in London. After the launch, the business’s finances were pretty tight — at the end of each week, we’d have to figure out if we had earned enough money to pay the rent and the staff – but this didn’t bother us. We were having such a great time that we kept going, mostly because we just liked hanging out together. One of the last things on our minds was setting up a company, let alone a corporate culture. Since we were happy, we treated our Virgin Records customers like they were part of the family. And since our customers loved their experience, they kept coming back for more.

Acknowledging the diversity to culture can easily be overlooked in pursuit of joviality. Meaning a demeanor where everyone appears to get along. Have you ever heard of a happy marriage that failed to your surprise? “I had no idea” we exclaim. Likewise with culture.

Diverse opinions, backgrounds and idiosyncrasies add to culture. Steve Jobs reportedly fired a programmer who he believed did not match their culture. I have learned there isn’t a one size fit all approach to anything. However …. groupthink can be persuasive which undermines the importance of an innovative atmosphere unhindered by compliance.  One can have a culture where apathy and anarchy quietly prevail. Thus similar to a clogged artery the outward impression is  healthy firm yet in reality ideas lost in translation. Should you care about what isn’t being seen or heard? Absolutely. Those that are loudest, powerful and extroverted can influence culture to such an extent to an executive or perhaps even other employees all is well.  Hoping for the right culture is tantamount to praying for rain. One has to expect some trudging through mud.

Christopher Hann on culture writes:

Some companies define their culture through writing and language; others with a dress code or office design. “I had a very clear vision and a very clear set of values that I wanted my company to be,” says Paul Lindley, founder of Ella’s Kitchen, a U.K.-based maker of organic food for babies and toddlers. He wanted his company’s purpose to be more than just profit; he wanted to encourage kids to develop healthier eating habits.

Lindley’s intention was to create a unifying force for employees. “It’s hard work to make sure that the team has one goal and is pulling in the same direction and motivated by the culture we created,” he says. “There’s a constant focus on listening to people and getting them talking to each other and understanding the purpose of the company.”

In other words, a good time does not create a happy culture. Moreover a happy culture does not equal an innovative i.e. productive culture.


Jim Woods is an employee engagement and leadership expert and founder of The Jim Woods Group a management consulting firm located in Colorado Springs, CO. where he serves as president.  We enable clients to embody leadership, build engagement, improve communication, and create a high trust culture.

Jim has worked with Fortune 500 firms, US military and non-profits. He brings a unique background of business, interpersonal skills, experience, to each of his consulting, speaking and coaching engagements. He is a sought after speaker on strategic leaders, competitive strategy, innovation, team building, employee engagement and uncertainty. To contact Jim for a speaking or consulting engagement click here.



Jim Woods is president of The Jim Woods Group. A management consulting firm. Go here to see his work He advises and speaks to organizations large and small on how to increase top line growth in times of uncertainty and complexity. Some of his speaking and consulting clients include: U.S. Army, MITRE Corporation, Pitney Bowes, Whirlpool, and 3M. See more at his website

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