52 - Apple

5 Pillars for Creating & Maintaining Company Culture

Chapter 25

If you’ve been following along with us over the past couple of months, this model will look familiar, because it’s the same shape and is composed of the same elements as the model we shared back in August called “Identity as Brand”.

Are we trying to pull a fast one on you and recycle our thinking and design work? No.

Rather, it is becoming clear to us that in the new era of business that demands authenticity as a prerequisite to trust, the brand and culture of successful, resilient companies will be deeply linked. Brand and culture must be congruent, animators of one another, as a Chinese embroidery, like a photograph and its negative — choose the metaphor you like best, but the point is the same – company identity is a composite of purpose, brand and culture, and so they had better align. [Tweet That!]

Identity as culture is composed of the same 5 pillars: Origin, Recognition, Intention, Sustenance and Relationship.


Over the next 5 weeks, we’ll be illustrating the concepts behind each of these 5 pillars of Identity as Culture. To do that, we will use the canvas of fiction and story, and a cast of characters, which will enable us to encounter culture through the human lenses that characters and their experiences provide, rather than learn them as a set of disembodied concepts.

The culture of an organization is a very human and animated reality that exists only to the extent that it is embodied. To dissect and rationalize an organization’s culture as if it were an inanimate notion is to deny its depth and uniqueness—and humanity.

If you find our use of the model or the parable of story to be distracting, here is the model in outline form:

  • Origin: What is the source of our company’s cultural identity–“shared, implicit, taken-for-granted assumptions?” From where do we get our sense of who we are?
  • Recognition: How is our culture expressed? How do our employees and others receive or experience it? What is unique about this company?
  • Intention: What do we as a company aspire to? What journey and contribution do we invite people to make? What are our commonly held intentions, really?
  • Sustenance: What sustains us as a company and keeps our organization healthy? What gives us drive and motivation? What keeps us going?
  • Relationship: How does our culture relate to others? How do we treat one another? How do we treat partners and competitors?

Next week we’ll start into “Origin” with the story of an organization engaged in a fight either to learn and uphold the ideals upon which it was founded or to jettison them in favor of progress and perceived efficiencies. You’ll meet Jamie, Billy and Alec, all employees of a fictionalized fruit business called Wallender’s and find out about a conflict that has set the whole company on edge…

To learn more about Telosity and join the movement to change business for the better, please visit telosity.net. Or you can reach Chris directly through houston@changealliance.com.

For other posts in the Telosity series, click here.

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