A flag, a symbol and company culture

Over the last few weeks, we have seen and heard a lot about flags and referendums in NZ. The debate swung from: "should we change", "should we keep it", "is it a waste of money and energy" to "who cares?".

Last week the people of NZ showed their colours by voting with a comfortable margin of 56.6% in favour of "no change", on a  turnout of 67% of the voting population.

When the results of this vote were published,  I was reminded of the importance of symbols, in this instance a flag.

Some years ago Gerry Johnson and Kevan Scholes wrote an article on corporate culture called,  The Cultural Web*, in which he argued that it was not sufficient to think about company culture from the dimension of how the organisation was structured or the ways it might be controlled. One needs to take into account four other factors:

  1. Routines
  2. Stories
  3. Internal politics
  4. Symbols

Don't under estimate the importance of symbols, it might be the boss's own car park,   the decoration of the office, a uniform or the flag outside. They are all symbols of an organisation's culture. 

I leave with one question: are you comfortable with the symbols in your organisation?  

Cultural Web, developed by Gerry Johnson and Kevan Scholes in 1992

chris johnson