Can Corporate Culture be changed?

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about company values and culture. Our new CEO (Jeff) and founder (Reid), shared LinkedIn’s mission and values at a recent all-hands (pics here –

Defining corporate culture is an extremely arduous task: part art, part science, part mystery. And redefining corporate culture may well be the Holy Grail in organizational management science.

Can it be done?

HBS’ Peter Bergman thinks it can be done – with stories. Yes, stories! As community evangelist, my role encompasses external evangelism. For e.g. letting our users communicate how LinkedIn has impacted their professional success, which we then chronicle on the blog –

And, Peter’s suggestion indicates that internal company culture can be changed with such stories.

“To start a culture change all we need to do is two simple things:

1. Do dramatic story-worthy things that represent the culture we want to create. Then let other people tell stories about it.

2. Find other people who do story-worthy things that represent the culture we want to create. Then tell stories about them.”

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  1. Mario Sundar

    Agreed. As with most social structure, change is always easier to spread through an org when it starts and is reinforced from the top.

  2. john Schonegevel

    I’m sure Peter is right – you can change corporate culture with stories. And I also think we tend to make it more complex than it need by trying to analyze and systematize our firm’s culture.

    In firms, culture change comes about, as does everything, through the way people behave. The more senior the person, the more intently their behavior is observed, magnified and copied by others.

    So if you feel the culture needs to change, start by living the new behaviors and see what happens

  3. Buckley Brinkman

    The other issue involved with a changing culture is also the change in fit between executives and the new culture. Can they really make the necessary changes to their own approach, especially when size and ownership changes? Their ability to adapt is really fairly narrow.

    More thoughts about fit:

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    […] Can Corporate Culture be changed? « Marketing Nirvana […]

  5. Michael Lee Stallard


    I couldn’t agree more. In addition to corporate storytelling, it’s important for leaders to clearly and articulate their values in a compelling way. A outstanding example is the Montpelier Command Philosophy from the USS Montpelier nuclear submarine. I just posted it at:

    Check it out. Who wouldn’t want to work for a leader who wrote that!


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