In the New York Times article, We’re Family, So We Can Disagree, Ursula Burns, chief executive of Xerox, is described as the new chief trying to “redefine” the Xerox culture. Often the process is more simply described as defining the culture, because in the process of defining it, a new culture–or a variation on the past culture–can emerge. Of course, completely throwing out the old is not typically advisable unless the company is struggling for survival.
So how does this defining process work? First, it must be a collective process–everyone must participate–to some degree–to produce a feeling of ownership. Through interviews, focus groups, and/or open-ended surveys with the leadership team and other key members, questions must be answered that will unveil why the organization exists, its distinctive and enduring principles, and the strategic priorities that will move the organization forward toward success. Then, with an understanding of the options generated from the initial data gathering, all organizational members participate in giving their views through a survey. Next, the leadership team reviews the survey results and conducts a reflective dialogue of options. The outcome is the creation of a core culture that everyone helped produce.
This process may take a few months, but at its conclusion, Xerox would have a clear picture of who the organization is–its identity–and what it will take to compete and thrive. And this “new” or adjusted culture will be clearly defined so that it can be shared.
So now is the time for Xerox to take a moment to reflect as a community–as a family–in capturing these valued core principles. Because the defined organization core culture will become the guiding light to direct all in the organization.