Spiritual Adventures in the Workplace

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Creating a Corporate Culture

I’ve taken a lot of time to explain the obvious—what corporate entities are, what a job is—because I wanted to point out something that’s not at all obvious.

We are all involved in a number of social groups, one of them being the corporate entity where we work.  I’ve been taking great pains to show that our jobs empower us, but only to a certain extent.  We are also constrained in certain ways, because our jobs limit us to these powers only and not those.

But have you ever thought about what the sum total of everyone’s contribution is in the day-to-day story of that corporate entity?  In short, the sum total of everyone’s contribution is the corporate culture.  We do more than crank out widgets or reports. We also create a culture.  The official culture that’s handed down from the bigwigs at the top?  That’s just part of the story.  The full story is that there’s an immense, evolving culture, and it’s made up of all the things that all of us say and do as representatives of that corporate entity.

Anyone who has contact with that corporate entity, from either the inside or the outside, catches a glimpse of some part of that culture.  This is what frustrates upper-level managers.  They want to insure that their carefully-manufactured culture is the one that gets communicated to the outside world.  They write scripts for people in frontline sales and service positions, hoping to convey a very precise message; but they cannot control the end result. The official culture, imposed from above, is only a part of the actual corporate culture.  The real culture is immensely complex and organic. It results from all the interactions of all the members of the organization, both with each other and with people from outside.

My point is this.  When we’re at work, we’re doing more than just the duties we’re paid to do.  We’re also contributing to the evolving corporate culture.  Regardless of our position within the company, we have some power to influence the life of the company.  The highest and the lowest on the corporate ladder are alike in this respect: each of us has influence, but only so much influence.  Last time I mentioned the fact that each of us has a certain (perhaps indistinct) sphere of influence.  Today what I’m saying is this: if we were able to comprehend the complete culture of any corporate entity, we would see how all the spheres of influence of all the people within the company intersect and overlap to make the corporate entity what it is, for better or for worse.

(To be continued…)


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