Who “owns” company culture?

Just saw this headline in HBR:

Didn’t even read the article, honestly. I know many of the points.

The problem is, the headline is complete and utter bullshit, nor is it even really possible in theoretical execution.

A culture is determined by founders, early-stage employees, and the evolution of the executive team. That is the culture of a place.

Smart cultures do bring in everyone 1–2 times/year to revisit some core norms and ways that work gets done and what relationships should look like, etc… although most companies never even do that.

Culture is largely a “suitcase word.” Because it means so many different things to so many different people — for many culture is compensation, but for others it’s jeans, projects, tacos, teammates, etc. — executives can use it, create a bunch of sidebar conversations among the plebs in the office, and then run back to their corner slots and debate financial acronyms all day, which is what they want to be doing.

A headline like this absolves leaders of responsibility by claiming shared ownership, when in fact a primary job of having a bigger salary is helping determine norms, processes, goals, relationships, how work gets done, what’s punishable and what’s not, etc, etc.

You don’t make more money to simply look at spreadsheets and sit in meetings, but unfortunately that’s the normative way that we look at “climbing the ladder.” You absolve yourself of the important shit to keep the lights on, which admittedly has value, and headlines like this prop you up.

Blogging, largely about work and how to improve it. How I make (some) money: http://thecontextofthings.com/work-with-me/

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