Corporate Tribes: Identifying the Cultures
In the last several chapters, we looked at the components of corporate culture. Now it is time to put all of these factors together -- values, heroes, rites and rituals -- and see how they actually work within the corporation. The focus in this section of the book is on managing cultures -- that is, on understanding them, analyzing them, shaping them, and retooling them when change is necessary. Most of the information here is suggestive, not prescriptive. We intend it as a different way of looking at management within an organization and we hope that it will offer a new perspective for both managers and employees.
As we've said before, the biggest single influence on a company's culture is the broader social and business environment in which the company operates. A corporate culture embodies what it takes to succeed in this environment. If hard selling is required, for success, the culture will be one that encourages people to sell and sell hard; if thoughtful technical decision-making is required, the culture will make sure that that happens too.
After examining hundreds of corporations and their business environments, we have come to see that many companies fall into four general categories or types of cultures. These categories are determined by two factors in the marketplace: the degree of risk associated with the company's activities, and the speed at which companies -- and their employees -- get feedback on whether decisions or strategies are successful. From these market realities, we have distilled the four generic cultures:
The tough-guy, macho culture. A world of individualists who regularly take high risks and get quick feedback on whether their actions were right or wrong.