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The Glass Box: Exposing Your Business Culture

  • Alyx 

They say a little transparency is a good thing. But we’ve moved into an era of complete transparency, and for many businesses, that has not turned out to be a good thing – take a look at the near-daily headlines relaying mistreatment of employees and customers at startups and established brands.

Trendwatching’s latest report discusses how the inner workings of a company used to be a “black box”, and are now more of a “glass box” – making your internal culture now a piece of your customer-facing message.

At Refinery Lab and at our previous employers, our team has worked extensively with the development of company cultures – particularly the idea of core values and how they impact every aspect of running a business, from internal decisions to customer experience and employee retention. We’ve long seen internal culture as a value proposition that resonates with customers, and a way to create a competitive edge.

This approach – not just the focus on culture, but also the communication of it – may be new to some businesses. There are three steps we recommend for any company beginning this journey:

– Assess your current culture. This may involve surveys, interviews with employees and customers (including previous employees) and get an honest evaluation of how well your company values have been communicated and adhered to.
– After identifying any gaps or weaknesses, develop a plan to codify and crystallize what you stand for, and communicate it internally. Understand that the plan and your culture can and will evolve over time, but lay out your basic precepts.
– Empower all your employees and departments to tell your story – a compelling culture will make others want to work with (and for) you!

For a company used to competing in the market strictly on price or features, with little internal focus or cohesion, the idea that internal culture and processes are highly visible will be a very new one. But it will be a worthwhile process and add tremendous value if done correctly.