Four essential foundations for building an Organisation’s culture

Home / blog / Four essential foundations for building an Organisation’s culture

If the founders of your organisation are still in your business, or your company has a well-documented corporate history, take time to find why the company was founded I am pretty sure that it wasn’t to make money; that was the outcome resulting from the company satisfying an a clearly identified market need.

Your organisation may have been founded on an idea, a solution to a problem, a challenge for which there was no solution, or simply serve the needs of others. Whatever the purpose, the founders wanted to develop a sustainable and profitable business.

In the beginning while the business was laying its foundations there were no numbers or performance measures to speak of, only a dedicated team of people who were committed to a purpose, cause or belief, and to building a culture from the inside out.

I was reminded of this last year when I heard Randi Zuckerberg, sister of Mark Zuckerberg the founder of Facebook, speak at a conference. She recalled that when she joined the company, it was operating out of small premises with around twenty people on the team. Randi recalled so much of the early discussion in team meetings centred on designing a culture that would endure, prosper and sustain the organisation when it was 20,000 people.

Purpose is the first of four essentials on which culture is founded. In fact purpose is the compelling and inspirational reason for why your organisation exists and what it is passionate about. Apple is an example of what happens when the founders are clear on why they founded the business. For Apple’s founders it was “to challenge the status quo” something they have successfully done in three major segments: computing, music, and mobile telephony.

Citizenship Many companies define and promote the importance of Values and behaviours, and they are correct to do so as they are critical to building a Constructive Culture. However, citizenship is more than Values; take a moment to think about the town or city in which you live and what it takes to be a valued citizen. Not only is it Values and behaviour, it is attitudes, feelings, standards and what people stand for. Your organisation is no different. As citizens of your company do people understand what’s required of them?

Role Model When it comes to culture leaders at all levels are accountable for establishing and communicating the philosophy – expectations, standards and norms for excellence. Norms are ways of behaving that are not formal, not explicitly communicated; nevertheless they have become part of the fabric of your organisation.

Authenticity Yes this word is in grave danger of becoming over used in the lexicon of leadership, however I don’t know another word that requires not only leaders but every single team member to be honest about strengths as well as short comings, to seek and speak what is true for them and to act with integrity towards all stakeholders they serve.

High performance at an individual, team or organisational level will not happen without committed people supported by a constructive culture. We can debate what are the levers for both, however, we need to remember Randi Zuckerberg’s description of those early days at Facebook when, from the outset, the team seized the opportunity to design a culture rather than let it evolve by accident.


Vivente Australia enables leaders and managers develop the bond between people and performance, creating a powerful advantage: the synergy between people, leadership, management, and culture, produces performance that allows your business to achieve its best.