June 9, 2009

I had to go to a company culture seminar the other day. After two years of doing the Resident Adviser thing at college, I feel like I’ve had a significant amount of forced culture education. It seems to me, the more it’s exalted, pushed, and enforced, the more fake, propagated, and cheap it seems. Culture is like a viral video. If you try really hard to make it, chances are you won’t.

Anyways, this class was really interesting in terms of learning about the values my company is founded on and the direction that the founder would like to go. I think it’s a great idea for people in a company to have a good idea of its future path and its roots. Not so much to instill the same morals in every single employee, but just give them more background, context, and explanation of how the company functions. Hopefully, if you message and conviction is great enough, people’s opinions will align with yours. Magic! Your culture is preserved.

What I dislike is feeling like I’m being trained to act or think a certain way. Or that the organization is trying to push their marketing on an already “converted” group. Or to feel like if I don’t fully agree with the culture, it somehow makes me inferior and unaccepted. This last point stings because any culture I’ve had training on is always about how accepting and diverse it is, so making people feel unaccepted seem counter-productive and hypocritical. If it seems fake, or if it seems like marketing in any way (even if it isn’t), you’re going to lose some authenticity from your audience. They might play along, but in the end, theses people will never be your die-hard fans. They won’t actively and subconsciously spread the word about your company.

It’s a very fine line to walk. Company culture is important, fragile, and changing (whether you want it to or not).



  1. hmmm… this reminds me of communism somehow. 🙂

  2. I’ve done a few of these. The most ad-like was when I worked at Proctor and Gamble. The second (and nth) time around, I just doodle or think of what I have to do when I get home.

  3. Remember when they told you that Hispanic people want roosters and chili peppers on their paper towels? Sometimes the corporate doesn’t quite get culture.

    • Yeah, I’m convinced that is part of the reason corporate didn’t like me as much.

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