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What is feeding your company culture?

On paper, work culture is a set of shared assumptions about what work means and what is valued in a company. It includes policies, organizational structures, explicit rules, and the social norms people use to decide how to act in various situations.

However, we all know that work culture really encompasses the unwritten rules of the office. It is the invisible document that tells us how to interact, how we should feel about our interactions, and what (and who) takes priority in decision making. Work culture usually influences your experience on the job and your thoughts about the company itself.

Culture is part of the identity and image of a company. But it is not just internal. It trickles out of your organization through interactions with customers and partners. It leaves and goes home with your employees—it shows up on social media and in office gossip.

So how did your culture get there, and what can you do to change it if it is not serving your employees, partners, and customers?

First, how did your culture get there?

I believe one significant way your culture is created is through work processes and how these are communicated to your employees. So, if your work processes are the Petri dish for your company culture (#nerdalert), so let's dive into how that happens.

I first began to think of this idea when I was studying the late Clayton Christensen's theories on disruptive innovation. In one of his lectures, he talked about how an organization's capabilities – what the organization can and cannot do—is just as crucial to success as individual contributions. In that framework, Christensen identified three factors that contribute to an organization's capabilities: resources (people, tech, cash, relationships), processes (how things get done), and corporate values—as in how things are prioritized concerning the business model.