Culture drives business

Transforming companies through values, culture and corporate DNA (Part 2). Read Part 1.

Culture eats strategy for breakfast. What an unambitious statement. Is organizational culture really a beast that cannot be tamed? For the quality manager it cannot be, as today even standardization demands for the existence of certain cultures.

Culture is in the focus in this second part of my three part blog post series on transforming companies. The series is a practical account of Link Motion’s ongoing journey towards being the company that develops safety and security critical vehicle computers. In the first part the focus was on values.

According to Wikipedia, organizational culture represents the values and behaviours of the people in an organization. Culture is influenced by a number of factors, including for example history and management style. [1] In other words, organizational culture emerges within organizational boundaries from the interactions of people, which sometimes stretch those very boundaries.

The definition of organizational culture contains the term value. In my previous blog post, I wrote that individual values manifest in the words and actions of people and that they evolve over time through interaction with the surrounding world.

People come to interactions with their individual values. The organizational context affects, but only to a certain extent, how people behave in the interactions. Interactions might end with some people’s values evolving, some people being unaffected and some people feeling conflict. Every time the culture evolves, as each interaction shifts the boundary of what is acceptable in one direction or the other.

“Culture, on the other hand, drives the business. When culture, processes and strategy are aligned, business will bloom.”

While organizational cultures are intangible, they can be characterized. Certain values and behavior support a safety culture, some a security culture and others an experimental culture. A culture with certain characteristics is required to achieve a certain outcome.

Culture characteristics have played a role in recruitment for a long time. There are even culture audits, which companies like Vincit pass with flying colors [2]. Now their role in business partnerships is growing. Automotive companies increasingly focus on security characteristics as vehicles become more and more connected. References to culture are making their way into standardization, such as ISO 9001 (customer focused culture), IATF 16949 (quality culture) and ISO 26262 (safety culture). As a result, we are asked weekly about existence of certain cultures at Link Motion.

In my previous blog post, I wrote that values are the last fallback and that they define what happens when the process fails. Culture, on the other hand, drives the business. When culture, processes and strategy are aligned, business will bloom.

Why then, is it unambitious to claim that culture eats strategy for breakfast? Because values, culture and process can be aligned to support the business instead of just letting them determine its destiny. Culture does drive the business, but we can define the direction. How? That I will explain in the next and last post of the series.

References

[1] Organizational culture. Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ Organizational_culture. Read 2018-07-11.
[2] Pystynen, Johanna. Great place to work 2006 culture audit. Vincit. https:// bestworkplaceineurope.com/CultureAuditEn.pdf. Read 2018-07-12.

Juha leverages his wide expertise in information technology, program management and business development to grow companies. During the past ten years he has worked with both embedded and enterprise systems in several positions and industries, including medical and online gambling to name a few. At Link Motion, Juha gets the possibility combine his embedded systems and cloud knowledge in developing connected cars. He is also responsible for the quality and compliance of Link Motion’s products. In addition to various certifications, Juha holds an M.Sc. in Engineering, BBA in Management and an honorary membership in the grumpy old men’s club.