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I had yesterday the privilege to be interviewed by Cindy King, on Twitter and on her blog, about cross-cultural communication. My answer to one of her questions (“Culture is…” in one word) raised a few interesting comments, and leaded me to further thinking. Culture is infrastructure.
From the fast growing literature about Enterprise 2.0, I only read few things about interaction between corporate culture and the necessary changes induced by embracing social tools behind the firewall. The relationship between governance, managerial routines and corporate culture is nevertheless far from easy to unveil, and has important implications in driving 2.0 initiatives.
Every company has a corporate culture
Even if not clearly communicated or formalized, relationships between employees, working habits and managerial style always define a set of embedded hard-to-move rules. Understanding these rules is a crucial step in determining which initiatives will or won’t be successful.
It is not always what you think it is
While CEOs and founders usually imprint their own vision as a corporate culture, reality is often a bit different, as day-to-day work usually follows its own path, independently from formal business processes. Micro-interactions are here much more important than macro-statements in determining the collaborative ability of a company.
Not all corporate cultures are suitable for E2.0
Apple is of course an obvious example of a company which successfully stays away from social media. A strong and meaningful corporate culture has by itself as much power as today’s most evolved social platforms.
Changing corporate culture is the hardest task to undertake
Changing an operating system takes time and commitment, but switching infrastructure is a radical move. Collaborative routines can easily be introduced in the most top-down company, as long as the wish to collaborate exists. Here too, look at micro-interactions between people to get a clue about potential success.
As usual, it is all about people
The fact that networks and communities must be driven by clear business goals shouldn’t obscure the key role of the Human Resources department. The larger the initiative, the stronger the HR commitment and support might be.