Talking about culture is not the same thing as building a great culture, but it’s a good start.

By Simon D’Arcy

Many leaders talk about culture. A few aspire to do something about it. Fewer still make it a top priority and follow it all the way through. Defining a vision and a set of core values to guide the organization is a great start. But for most, when swirling business deadlines re-assert themselves, cultural aspirations are sidelined.  As a result, the gap between cultural aspiration and how people actually behave persists.

Key questions that reveal if your company has an aspirational culture (vs. a next level culture):

  • Do the stated values of your company mean something personally to YOU?
  • Do you consciously strive to behave in a way that is consistent with those values?
  • Do these values inspire you?  How about your team, your manager?  Your CEO?

If the answer is no to any of these, you are not alone. We estimate that over half of the 18,000 companies with more than 500 employees are in a similar place. Reasons previous clients reliably mention for not following through on culture include:

  • “We have too many more important business priorities.”
  •  “We don’t have time to do the ‘touchy feely’ stuff.”
  •  “HR will handle it.”
  • “We would love to, but can’t afford it. Only companies with lots of money can afford to do that.”


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Simon D'Arcy

Simon is a thought-leader on organizational culture with more than 20 years experience as an organizational development consultant and executive coach on 6 continents for hundreds of seniors leaders from Fortune 1000 companies. He is the founder and curator of, a resource for leaders curious about the latest inspiration and insight on culture building.  He is also the author of the forthcoming Culture Builders Manifesto. As a partner at Evolution, he helps fast growing start-ups to scale quickly without losing their soul. He lives in Santa Barbara, CA with his wife Tamra Rutherford.

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