For a company to achieve the desired result, it’s culture – what people think and do – must be aligned with the result.” Roger Connors, Author of The Oz Principle

Rock climber Yvon Chouinard is credited with making Patagonia one of the most remarkable sportswear companies in the world. His vision drove a corporate culture of environmental activism that is chronicled in the book Let My People Go Surfing

TOMS Shoes, is looking to revolutionize how we look at corporate culture in the future. They are championing the idea that a company can sell a quality product, be profitable, and give back to those in need.  I can only hope that they will inspire other companies to do the same.  In the picture on the right, Zappos defined its company’s culture via ten core values and each year they even publish a “Culture Book”.

Decisions.. Decisions.. So, what does it take to create the right kind of culture?

How can you maintain that culture? During the process of defining your corporate values, you must align your culture with ethics.  It’s important to recognize that business leaders will encounter dilemmas in their decision-making process when values collide. For instance, on what do leaders base their decision when no matter what they decide, the outcome may have undesired consequences? It is important to stress immediately that there is no single and universally accepted rule, or set of rules, that one can use. However, as a general rule-of-thumb on whether a particular decision, option or course of action is ethically acceptable, leaders can ask themselves if the intended action is consistent with the accepted values, strategy, and history of the company.

My five-stage process for ethical decision-making

1. Perceive the problem and consider the obligation to act.

2. Evaluate the problem (that is, what are the issues, what are the facts?).

3. Make a decision (choose the best option with due consideration for the rules, values, consequences, and care for others).

4. Implement and accept responsibility for the decision.

5. Monitor and adjust.

The first stage is certainly the most important. If leaders do not perceive an ethical dilemma or problem, then they will not attempt to address or solve it. Once the problem has been perceived, the leader must spend some time evaluating it and exploring various solutions, and only then make and implement a decision. Employees always need to be current on what the companies problems are and then constantly encouraged to help solve them.

Creating the right company culture is hard but invaluable.  A business is all about making decisions, good or bad, those decision will effect how your company is perceived both internally and externally.  High performance culture where employees get great feelings of:  significance, connection and certainty will serve to unify and energize the company and its employees.

Remember, your culture is your brand and the bottom line of a business is its people.  The decisions you make, must be consistent with your corporate values.