The intersection between HR strategy and HR technology

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In a recent edition of AON’s “AON Consulting Forum” they had an article entitled “Leading Change: Creating an Energized Organization.” ((October 2006. Retrieved from on December 18, 2006.)) My first reaction was a rather uncalled for scoff. My thoughts were that the article reflected my opinion that AON is a second tier HR consulting firm. While the rest of the world has moved onto a more sophisticated and strategic view of transforming culture into the employer brand or the employee value proposition (EVP), AON seems to be the only one left talking about “culture.” It took me a few seconds to realize that perhaps culture still does have a place in the discourse. Here are some thoughts. (and an apology to AON).

In essence, culture can be described as representing the enduring qualities and characteristics of an organization that explain why things happen the way they do. Culture defines a company’s “rules of the road,” while at the same time generating a powerful influence on what a company can achieve and what it cannot. It has direct impact on attaining strategic objectives and whether management efforts at improvement succeed or fail. It provides an understanding of work behavior that is out of reach of the more traditional measures of job performance, and it has been shown to have a significant impact on an organization’s long-term success. ((Ibid))

Let’s think about this. I really liked the idea that culture defines the “rules of the road.” While the EVP and employer brand can dictate the strategic goals of the company as it applies to employees, these strategies don’t aim at the tactics of how employees and managers then act or interact. These rules create the true backbone of the workforce environment. While the EVP and brand may define it, the culture is the actual setting that the workforce environment operates and is fulfilled.

Perhaps we’ve been spending so much time trying to figure out what our EVP’s are that we’ve been letting the culture go just a little bit. Without a combined effort on both fronts, the brand and the culture will struggle.

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4 responses to “Defining Culture”

  1. in the culture? Can I excel in the culture? How tolerant is the culture of new ideas, new members and new initiatives? It’s a mystery. Systematic HR, a blog about “the intersection between HR strategy and HR technology,” found an interesting definition that perhaps defines the starting point on this subject. From a self-serving piece from Aon, culture is this: In essence, culture can be described as representing the enduring qualities and characteristics of an organization that explain why things

  2. Gary Pearl Avatar
    Gary Pearl

    Dr. John Sullivan just published an interesting article about corporate culture and how it can be a barrier to change.

  3. Alberto Avatar

    It should be “Aon” – it’s not an acronym.