Concocting Corporate Culture


How to culminate the best of your specialized resources

People matter. People make all the difference. People are the foundation of everything. Corporate culture is a topic I feel strongly about, so may I go ahead and just call it like I see it? Frankly, the old way of working in subservient corporate structures is floundering – and falling flat. While I believe the same holds true in most other industries, I can say this has become a rather sensitive and tricky territory in our industry.

In the agency world, typically you’ll find someone at the helm who ultimately has the last say on which ideas are pursued and which ones hit the cutting room floor. This person is the megalomaniac leader who always has to have the last say and believes no idea is a great idea unless it comes from them. Now, just think about how that translates and ripples out – does that sound like a culture that inspires creativity, fosters collaboration, sparks innovation or propels progression? No, certainly not. That style of leadership is fear based, driven by ego and no longer works.

How about leadership that leans more toward the benevolent dictator? This type of leader does a great job of listening, consciously includes others and is able to build very dedicated and loyal teams. This style works much more effectively, but because so much hinges on the strengths and sensibilities of the leader, it doesn’t scale well.

Concocting the right corporate culture is a craft. The time and attention required for this aspect of running a business is equally important to the others, yet its soundness is most often underestimated. That is why we dedicated a whole chapter in Storyscaping – Stop Creating Ads, Start Creating Worlds to share how to culminate the best of your specialized resources – the people and the team. You can read examples and borrow from our living outline for how we shocked our own culture within SapientNitro.

The alternative culture we’ve found to be very effective in today’s world feels more like a consultative environment where teams are dynamically assembled, based on the client ask and with the philosophy that “not one of us is smarter than all of us.” The whole company is viewed as a collection of creative-minded individuals who are all collaborating to solve problems and make an impact on people’s lives.

Strategists, planners, technologists, writers, art directors, etc., are brilliant in their own fields, and when we cross pollinate we most often find the best ideas brewing between people from different disciplines. The depth and richness of an idea percolates when strategists and designers hash things out together, when writers and technologists share left and right-brained thoughts, and when both the thinkers and doers are “all-in” throughout the entire project. This collaboration brings to life insights that could go untapped when people are left in their own rooms, mining the blank page for gold. An application of connected thinking moves random ideas toward creative solutions.

True collaboration makes connections between ideas and people and people and behaviors and then it tests the strength of those new connections to make sure they’ll hold. That’s a corporate culture to celebrate.

By Gaston Legorburu (@gastonleg), Worldwide Chief Creative Officer

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