A beautiful epiphany: Corporate culture in a new light

One global management specialist discusses why HR should tackle corporate culture from a brand new angle to really bring it to life

“Culture is the most overused and often least understood concept in business,” Stan Slap, management consultant and founder of global organisation SLAP, told HRD.
 
This is a statement borne from experience with Slap’s firm working with clients in over 70 countries to show them how much they can gain from changing their culture.
 
“I realised that if I was really going to change the standard, I’d have to find something that was of compelling interest to people,” he said. “That’s what led me to culture because culture is where the humans gather in business.”
 
When working with clients, he focuses them on three key areas: manager culture, employee culture and customer culture.
 
“I knew if I would reposition these three cultures back to the enterprise as newly precious workable assets, the enterprise would protect them,” he explains.
 
By tapping into this instinctive business need, he said businesses will then protect the humanity encased within these three cultures.
 
One of the biggest challenges here is getting organisations to see the true value of what cultures hold. Put in simple terms, culture is the source of a lot of key business goals.
 
“If you don’t understand what culture is, you don’t understand the manifestations of real cultural impact,” he said. “You wouldn’t understand leadership, you wouldn’t understand strategic execution and you wouldn’t understand branding – all of those things are purely cultural play.”
 
While some companies have stubbornly resisted cultural change, the ones that do have experienced some true rewards, he said.
 
“There have been a lot of beautiful moments we’ve had in companies where you can see the epiphany come together and say: ‘My God, we can actually treat humans with empathy and respect and make a tonne of money from doing it!’”
 
Doing this saves the soul of a lot of companies, he added, an achievement which Slap is obviously very proud of.
 
“I’m in business to make the business case for humanity,” he said. “If we lose it in business, we’re all doomed. If we save it company by company, manager by manager, then we save ourselves.”
 
Related stories:
 
“Engagement and culture are not HR issues”
 
Why the wrong cultural fit can be a disaster
 
On demand: Streaming that Netflix culture into your firm

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