Corporate culture has always been an enigma. We only know of the culture that we stepped into, and not much from the rest of the world. If there is a way to truly immerse ourselves into the diverse and ever-changing corporate cultures, we should grab that opportunity.
Human resource and organizational development go hand-in-hand in continuously innovating and improving the culture they disseminate to employees in the organization. It’s a pretty big responsibility, and quite a vital one too. Think about it: you are responsible if the company is going to be a healthy, progressive, and successful place or, on the other end of the stick, an extremely unpleasant one.
Still, the question remains, how do you develop good company culture?
There is no one solution to such a broad question but here are some practices that builds an innovative corporate culture:
Make a Special Case the Norm
This is when an especially bad situation happens to an organization and its people are able to come up with extraordinarily innovative solutions. If the stakes are high, adrenaline takes over, and lets us do feats of excellence that we wouldn’t have otherwise. Industry Star introduces the concept of making a special case the norm. However, when the waters are relatively calm, small problems are harder to find solutions for. What should we do to repair this case? According to the article we should copy the practices done during these high stakes moments even if the stakes are low. The urgency and excellence in problem solving should be the norm.
Take Banko Sentral ng Pilipinas for example. It is the first and only Gold Awardee under the Civil Service Commission’s Program in Excellence in Human Resource Management, and they are thriving tremendously. This proves that with excellence as the norm, it has to come from the people who are facilitating it, the human resource and organizational development departments. The company’s penchant for problem solving can be traced back to its history.
Back in 1933, when the first idea of the Philippine bank was put into development, it was continuously declined due to the political nature at the time. The idea of Philippine banking was backed up against the wall. After a couple of years, “The Commission proposed a program designed to ensure the system’s soundness and healthy growth. Its most important recommendations were related to the objectives of the Central Bank, its policy-making structures, scope of its authority and procedures for dealing with problem financial institutions.” Resilience in providing consistent problem-solving and being present throughout the Philippine economic history is the epitome of making a special case the norm.
Rethink Critical Dimensions of Work
There is also the concept of rethinking critical dimensions of work. We’re talking about the basic elements that affect work-life balance—work systems, work capacity of different employees, and corporate social responsibilities (CSR). Just because they’ve been done this or that way for the longest time does not mean they should not be improved on.
In the workplace, new knowledge and skills are imperative. Don’t let time stop you from continuing to learn.
Then there’s the Philippines AirAsia, Inc. who takes it to another notch. As they’ve gone from Air Asia 3.0 to Air Asia 4.0, they are a living proof that passion pushes your company to higher ground. Without passion, there can be no improvement. AirAsia has since created AirAsia Foundation, a philanthropic arm of the airlines. It is an organization that funds grants to social enterprises in countries in the ASEAN to pay forward what is good and right. They’ve come up with something more, something bigger, and with passion they’ve created an organization that brings people to say: to ”Destination: GOOD”. Developing a culture of people who not only have a passion for excellence, but a passion to always go for the bigger picture is a feat worth applauding. It’s something worth rethinking dimensions of your work as you aim to reach, and go beyond, your company’s goals.
The academe is one of the most interesting places to immerse into. They don’t only hone minds and cultivate learning but are a complex workforce of students and educators working together to make a giant machine. Benedictine International School is one such institution which places the value of innovative learning on top of the highest pedestal. Some of these innovations are the integration of spiritual-moral, intellectual, psycho-emotional, socio-cultural, aesthetics, and physical-mental health. They do not focus on only one aspect of education—grades—but cohesively tie in: knowledge and information, skills and values. It says on their website that, ”BIS was established on the philosophy that relevant education is a product of adaptation to the demands of the time and the corresponding new approaches that can be applied in the delivery of such education.” The importance of traditional education has always been there. The challenge that Benedictine International School takes is to innovate ways that education can be applied to the critical dimensions of learning.
Defy a Constraining Assumption
Shakeys Pizza Asia Ventures, Inc. is one of those businesses that defied a constraining assumption of their industry—the assumption that the “customer is always right.” They pledge to involve their customers through guest engagement and because of that, they treat their customers as humans, as three-dimensional people. They not only serve, but actively interact with them. This gutsy move and culture adjustment is what catapulted their business to success. They not only stop with their customers but with their employees as well. Shakey’s has a program called “Love ‘em Down” with the hashtag #ShakeItAll4Down which welcomes people with down syndrome into their community by hiring them as employees.
In the service industry, there are certain traditions that neglect differently abled people due to society’s cruel biases. Shakey’s challenged this constraining assumption and came up with a project that is not only beneficial for them but for others as well.
ALSO READ: OD Lab 2019: From Culture to Cool Chore
Learn how organizations capitalized on innovative culture-building efforts to enable strategies and support strategic directions.
Create Catalysts for Progress
As human resource and organizational development people we strive for progress; may it be unity, harmony, or team work. Sometimes we look for cogs in the machine that needs improving, and sometimes we innovate programs to take things up to another level. Whatever it is, we create catalysts for progress.
A good example is HBC (Home of Beauty and Color). Instead of solely focusing on customers as key drivers of growth, they have transformed this beauty industry tradition into one that is inclusive and collaborative. They create a,” familial culture and open door policy that allows employees’ proactive exchange of ideas on new products, processes, and technology which translates to quality output.” They sought to inspire their people; by doing so, creating a catalyst within the team that transforms not only internal affairs but external affairs too. After all, the people who interact first with the customers are your employees. As they say, take care of your employees and they will take care of your customers.
Lyceum of the Philippines University, on the other hand, looks at social justice as a means to drive progress. They put up the COSeL or the Community Outreach and Service Learning. “LPU COSeL envisions itself as a leading catalyst for social transformation in the Asia Pacific.” Communities empowering communities is what they aspire to do. Their main goals are: community participation, peace, and justice. They want to obtain global standards for everyone in the Asia Pacific Region.
Again, corporate culture is an enigma and there is no one approach that solves all underlying questions. What we can do is explore and in a sense invade the viewpoint of other companies to ensure that we, as human resource and organizational development people are not boxed within one idea of culture.
Here’s how you too can immerse to these cultures:
OD Lab 2019 From Culture to Cool Chore is 3-day conference that intends to dissect, immerse, and ultimately put into practice the company culture invasion that will transpire. The speakers, Josephine Perez, licensed psychologist and Ateneo de Manila faculty and Victor L. Magdaraog, senior business advisor will propel the conference to an informative start. Culture, especially in the corporate world, can make or break an organization. The Keynote speakers will be there to dissect how culture and organization transformation through process observation and analysis (POA) happens, followed by immersion, and a summarization of learning on the last day.
“Operational Innovation: A Step-by-Step Approach.” IndustryStar Solutions, 12 Feb. 2018, https://www.industrystarsolutions.com/blog/2018/02/operational-innovation-step-step-approach/.
“Down Syndrome Association of the Philippines, Inc.” Good News! The Love ‘Em Down Program in… – Down Syndrome Association of the Philippines, Inc., https://www.facebook.com/downsyndromeassociationofthephilippinesinc/photos/a.1058492647572446/2169268566494843/?type=3&theater.
“Destination: GOOD: About Us: AirAsia Foundation.” AirAsia Foundation GCP, https://www.airasiafoundation.com/about-us/.
“About Us.” Benedictine International School, https://benedictine.edu.ph/v2/about-us/.
“About The Bank.” Bangko Sentral Ng Pilipinas – About the Bank – History, http://www.bsp.gov.ph/about/history.asp.
Lotie Mercado is an Editorial Assistant at WorkWise Asia. She loves literature, art and films.