Does Company Culture Exist?

Dr Richard Claydon is a someone who likes to question why we claim things – he’s a natural challenger. He describes himself as a Transdisciplinary Behavioural Scientist and Ironist.

He writes some interesting (if a bit too long) things on Linked In that a few people sent to me. We had a brilliant chat for well over an hour but i’ve tried to edit it into something enlightening and digestible.

Richard says something that I’ve been thinking a lot. We shouldn’t be worrying about company culture. Office culture or more probably team culture is the most important thing for us to be focussing on. Richard runs a company called Organisational Misbehaviourist

We talk about how the ideas of strategy and culture have an ongoing battle in business circles. In the 1980s and 90s there was a lot of talk about work culture – he explains that this was because the Japanese businesses that were idolised tended to seem to have a good culture.

Here’s why I find academics have such a valuable contribution to this debate. Richard talks about the work of Professor Joanne Martin from Stanford University who spent time looking at whether you could observe a single culture in organisations. And the answer was you never could. Company culture is a nice story we tell ourselves but it’s an illusion. When it’s most aggressively implemented it leads to people pretending to go along with it with ironic attachment. What a fascinating idea

we talk about Project Aristotle which is a massive piece of work that Google did that looked at the best performing teams. The finding of that work was that the secret of good teams was psychological safety – people feeling comfortable in speaking up with no fear of punishment. Where people could be their complete selves.. This finding drew on the findings of Amy Edmondson – if you’re interested in these things here’s:

A TED talk by Amy Edmondson

Read more about Google’s Project Aristotle here