In a world full of noise, there’s more to what you bring to the table than just your products. Who are you as a business, and what do you represent? In other words, what’s your corporate cultural fingerprint? Every organization has one — and even if you don’t acknowledge yours, it’s still working behind the scenes. Let’s define exactly what a cultural fingerprint is, why it matters, and how to find yours.
What is a corporate cultural fingerprint? Ultimately, a corporate cultural fingerprint is a kind of identity that dictates what makes two businesses different. Like a real fingerprint, it’s a unique identifier, and determines the difference in how organizations conduct themselves. Part of this is about a company’s values. Do you value quality? Transparency in your organization? Efficiency? Sustainability? It’s also about the underlying assumptions and beliefs. For instance, one company might implicitly assume that everyone will stay at the company late to finish their work when needed, while another believes that results can sometimes be sacrificed to protect the team’s wellbeing. It’s this implicit and unspoken aspect of a fingerprint that tends to confuse people. On paper, two companies can look exactly the same — and they might even have very similar “values” posted on their website. But in practice, they could have completely different processes.
Why your corporate cultural fingerprint matters If you’ve ever worked for multiple organizations, you’ll know there were subtle (or perhaps large) differences in how they operated. But this isn’t always the easiest thing to articulate. Once you’re aware of your corporate cultural fingerprint, it becomes something you can use to create a more concrete framework, improve your processes, and attract the right people. For instance, if you realize that your corporate culture values customer service above everything else, you can put that at the heart of most of your processes so your team knows that they can afford to sacrifice some efficiency for it. It’s all about being consistent and transparent. It can also give your team a sense of greater identity and togetherness since everyone knows what they’re working toward. If you work with external consultants or onboard new employees, it helps them get to grips with the organization more quickly and easily — which is also better for you.
How to find your corporate cultural fingerprint Now you have a better idea of what a corporate cultural fingerprint is and why it matters, you hopefully want to find your own. Many assume that this identity can be created overnight in a brainstorming session between executives, but this isn’t necessarily going to be an accurate representation of what your company is all about. We break this down into three crucial aspects:
People One of the biggest factors in determining corporate culture is the leadership style. Are your leaders fostering a collaborative or competitive culture? Are they encouraging innovation or keeping things traditional? Does the organization improve diversity? How flexible are you about your employees — do you support things like remote working? Processes A company’s processes say everything about what its priorities are and how it approaches tasks. Is it putting performance or customer service first? Are processes still the same as one decade ago, or are they dynamic and always changing? Is a firm taking an agile approach, or are projects highly bureaucratic and regimented? Do you give everyone a safety brief, or do you figure that it’s an unnecessary bureaucracy you can skip? Technology The relationship between technology and organizational culture might not be obvious, but it has links with other areas. Tech can also be used to promote professional growth, development, and learning. It can also facilitate remote working,
Customer service As mentioned, some businesses are more customer-centric than others. The way a company treats customers and follows the proper processes to look after their interests plays an important part of their fingerprint.
Ready to take your fingerprint? Your corporate cultural fingerprint is an intangible measure, so many organizations downplay its importance. Besides, it can be tough to describe your own culture when a lot of it rests on assumptions or unspoken beliefs. Bringing in a third party to observe and unpack everything for you can be useful — especially before you carry out a process like business transformation. At Cornerstone Paradigm Consulting, we can help to break down your cultural fingerprint, with the aim of helping you improve your operations. If you’d like to find out more, contact us to schedule a consultation.