Written by 14:06 Insight

The funny business of culture

It’s possible to prove with just one sentence why all initiatives around corporate culture unavoidably fail: culture is an organic concept, while corporations are mechanical organizations.

“Corporate Culture” is an oxymoron: an absurd concept that can’t be realized because it contains an innate contradiction. From the this vantage point all corporate culture initiatives are comical. The latest example from the F500 stand-up circuit is Deloitte Consulting’s entry into the field.


  1. Deloitte decided to become an expert(!) in response to market needs (in other words they’ve put the name stamp on one more area, appealing to a stupid and irresponsible decision making reflex that buys brand names as an answer to any problem). Understanding what the clueless needs to approve budgets, they created tools that sound scientific and pragmatic enough: culture path and similar, that enables companies to measure their culture, pinpoint strengths and gaps, and drive behaviors needed to achieve critical business objectives. Precisely what a machine operator (ceo) needs.
  2. But why did they do it? Because facing increased pressure to deliver more growth and productivity while addressing workforce mobility trends and skills shortages, 87 percent of business leaders cite organizational culture and employee engagement as their top challenge. So culture initiatives -culture being viewed as a machine part- will be a reaction to problems – in addition to being a good additional revenue source for an auditing company. An important note here: managers measure what they can’t control; precisely to create an illusion of control. The invention of “corporate culture” is a case in point (nobody among those who took a minute to reflect ever believed that the “if you can’t measure it you can’t manage it” dogma, which implies that if you can measure it you can in fact manage it, was true off the factory floor)
  3. No more notes are necessary….maybe one more: CEOs who have been with the company for more than a few years and buy a “culture diagnostic tool” should be fired immediately. If a new CEO buys one to “orientate” himself, rest assured that the company is on its way to become even more mechanical than it is now.

The root cause of “Pressure from workforce mobility trends and skills shortages” (among other things) is precisely that the company is more of a machine than an organic organization.

Trying to solve this with a mechanical tool set is comparable to trying to put out fire by gasoline.

To illustrate all this, have a look at the picture above (from Tom Foremski) of googleites waiting for their shuffle bus. As Tom remarked, “They don’t talk to each other or even nod hello!“.

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Tags: , Last modified: 8 March 2021