The Cultural Web

Bring Your Company Culture to Life

Does your business have in place an appropriate culture that is inclusive, productive and sustainable, which enhances your business’s success and reputation?

Culture is vital if you’re going to encourage your people to do their best work for you and to work together with others. But how do you define the culture of your company? One way to start is by using the Cultural Web. This is an excellent tool that gets people within your business talking about the company culture – it makes the intangible tangible. It helps to answer the question “What it’s like around here?” and shows you how to define your company culture.

If you’re looking to bring teams together after a merger, or help new employees settle in, defining your company culture through the Cultural Web is a great way to ensure success. Here’s an introduction to the process.

Working with the Web

Company culture can be defined as the ‘basic assumptions and beliefs that are shared by people within a business, that operate unconsciously and define in a ‘taken-for-granted’ fashion a company’s view of itself and its environment’. In other words, it is the collective behaviours in your business.

Trying to understand the culture of your company is very important and not straightforward. This is where you can use the Cultural Web. It is a representation of the assumptions, or paradigm, of a company and the physical manifestations of culture. There are six interconnecting elements of the Cultural Web:

1. The rituals of the company are particular activities or special events through which the company emphasises what is important and reinforces ‘the way we do things around here’.

2. The stories told by people within the business to each other and to outsiders, embed the present in the history of the company and also highlight important events and personalities. They cover successes, disasters, heroes, villains and mavericks.

3. Symbols such as logos, offices, cars and titles can be a representation of the nature of the business.

4. Power structures are also likely to influence the key assumptions. The most powerful groupings are likely to be closely associated with the core assumptions and beliefs.

5. Organisational structure is likely to reflect power and show important roles and relationships. Formal, hierarchical, mechanistic structures may show that working on strategy is the role of managers and everyone else is ‘working to orders’. Highly devolved structures may signify that collaboration is more important than competition, for example.

6. The control systems are the measurements and reward systems which show what is important to monitor in the company.

What does this mean for your company? Read on to see the questions you can ask to bring your Cultural Web to life.

Developing Your Cultural Web

Here are some useful questions you can ask when using the cultural web:

  • Routines and rituals – what behaviour do routines encourage? What are the key rituals? What core beliefs do they reflect? How easy are your rituals and routines to change?
  • Stories – what core beliefs do your company stories reflect? Do your stories relate to strengths or weaknesses, successes or failures, conformity or mavericks? Who are the heroes and villains in your company? Do they still work in your company?
  • Symbols – are there particular symbols which represent the company? What status symbols are there? What language and jargon are used?
  • Power structures – how is power distributed in the company? What are the core beliefs of the leadership? How strongly held are these beliefs? Where are the main blockages to change?
  • Organisational structures – how mechanistic or organic are the structures? How flat or hierarchical are they? How formal or informal are the structures? Do they encourage collaboration or competition?
  • Control systems – what is most closely controlled and monitored? Is emphasis on reward or punishment? Are controls related to history or current strategies?

When you can answer these questions, you can start to build your company’s Cultural Web, bringing to life the way you do things and the culture of your company. If you need help with developing an inclusive, productive and sustainable culture that enhances your business’s success and reputation, do get in touch. Call one of the team – Jonathan – 07503 891 331, Patrick – 07425 150 238, or Pippa – 07941 819 169  or click here to email us.

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