Developing Corporate Culture

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Elements of Enterneering®/Culture/Developing Corporate Culture 

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Developing corporate culture does not necessarily require intensive study or an infinite number of methods. There are countless professional articles available that describe different methods and experiences.

One such researcher on culture was the Dutch cultural scientist and social psychologist Gerard Hendrik Hofstede (1928-2020), who described organisational culture as a collective mental programming that distinguishes the members of one group or category from those of others. He has established a model with four categories: Values, Rituals, Heroes and Symbols.

Another pioneer in the field of organisational culture was the US social scientist Edgar H. Schein (1928-2023). He defined organisational culture as the sum of all common and taken-for-granted assumptions that a group has learnt over the course of its history. His three-level model encompassing Basic Assumptions, Values & Norms and Artefacts serves as the starting point for models of culture that came later.

Another well-known model for describing corporate culture is the 'iceberg model' postulated by the US American Edward T. Hall (1914-2009). This iceberg-shaped model illustrates the connection between visible, easily accessible cultural characteristics and the hidden, invisible parts of cultural behaviour.

McKinsey consultants Tom Peters and Robert Waterman developed the '7S Model', in which three hard and four soft factors are described as pillars of success, and the interdependencies within corporate culture are shown.

Methodologically speaking, there is thus something to suit every individual taste or situation. However, before applying or changing certain elements or approaches, the human aspects should be adjusted, first and foremost, within the executive management itself. Although there is no patent recipe or commonly used blueprint for successful cultural development, the core elements of awareness, courage, self-reflection and action explained below apply in almost any circumstance, method or model for success.

The path to awareness is paved with the knowledge of the characteristics and significance of corporate culture, as well as acceptance that the current form of any company’s culture has its weak points. Only those who understand how culture affects the people within a company, and the consequences or changes that are associated with particular forms of cultural development, can assess the situation in their own company. If the management is also able to actively accept the potential for development, it will be able to tackle this in a self-determined manner.


This is the lifeblood of every entrepreneur. Theoretically, there should be nothing else to add to this point. In practice, however, it is apparent that some entrepreneurs do not apply the same care and consistency to the topic of culture development as they do to making changes to an established product or to their market image. This is probably because corporate culture is a topic that can relatively easily be moved to the backburner but not one that can easily be simulated or calculated. It may therefore be considered a major unknown or uncertainty. And it is in constant competition with every other business process for attention and resources. This is exactly the point about courage, which is closely linked to a consistent risk consciousness.

It means having the courage to consciously adapt our happily nurtured ways of thinking and behaving and remain authentic. The necessity of having the courage to consistently accept problematic ripple effects and interactions. In the end, it is also about having the courage to move forward with the times, anticipating the future with an entrepreneurial mindset and paving the way for your organisation to get there successfully, even without being sure that you yourself will always feel comfortable there.


People differ when it comes to their character, origin, upbringing, education, life experiences, preferences and personal development goals. All these aspects determine how individuals think and act. When it comes to developing an appropriate or desired form of corporate culture, contradictions or disagreements between those carrying out this task and the corporate ideal are not uncommon. The most important element for successfully resolving this debate is self-reflection. In self-reflection, the most important questions are:

What impulses for change can I establish myself?
How can my behaviour contribute to this new corporate culture I am part of?
How can I inspire others? Am I communicating with other staff on the same wavelength?
What expectations do I have of the people in the company, and am I an authentic role model?
How can the circle of those who do things differently keep expanding?
Which people do I trust to play active roles as multipliers?

Although the term is 'self-reflection', enlisting appropriate third parties can be helpful. These may be life partners, people from your circle of friends and family, or trusted business partners. It is important that any such discussions be kept completely confidential and that open and honest feedback is expected.

Honest self-reflection can reveal that some of our traits or behaviours are in conflict with specific elements of the company’s culture. For example, a person who places great value on tradition, performance and success will generally be strongly in favour of action-oriented planning and development and less focussed on team-oriented issues. Recognising and reflecting on constellations like these is an important step that should be taken before deciding on and implementing appropriate development measures.


Regardless of whether the actions taken consist of personal measures, those of the management team or from within the workforce, they must always be planned. It is partly a matter of identifying and evaluating important interdependencies and interactions associated with the implementation of these actions. As with any task list or roadmap, the usual minimum requirements for these actions should also be described. In addition, for most actions, concurrent change management will probably be useful – and may even be an absolute necessity.

Public action should be integrated into the company's overall plan because this also takes up resources, attention and energy. In addition, equivalent action planning promotes equivalent implementation and reduces the risk that culture development activities will be constantly pushed to the side in favour of business-related activities.

Personal actions should be itemised on a priority to-do list, just like other strategic tasks. It makes sense to share these personal tasks or goals with trusted individuals in your private life so that there is an opportunity for regular follow-up and feedback. Caution is advised, however, with any action that would require such a major change to your own patterns of thinking and behaviour that you risk a loss of authenticity or having your trustworthiness being called into question. Or where your discomfort might cause you to sideline your actual objective.




Within the framework of the principles described above, elements of today's culture can be evaluated, modified or replaced and additional components can be adapted.

Enterneering® does not define a dedicated approach to cultural development as an independent area, but assumes that the implementation of the systemic approach of the discipline of Enterneering® results in conscious cultural development.


Related content:

  • Elements of Enterneering/Introduction  ❭ ❭ ❭