On company culture – 2021 edition

Plus, a reflection on the culture of Pixel Dreams

A short post for a tall order

Somewhere in the multiverse stands an expansive library on the subject of culture. With infinite shelves packed with infinite books, it falls short in accurately describing and prescribing culture. “Words are just pointers,” said Huineng. And yet, somehow, a few simple words can been enough. Think different. Just do it. Leaders are readers.

The ‘culture’ talk is everywhere in business

According to Deloitte research, 94% of executives and 88% of employees believe a distinct corporate culture is important to the success of their companies. It’s no wonder ‘company culture’ is heralded on ‘about us’ pages, across the LinkedIn feeds, and on the agendas of company-wide meetings. The reality is that many preach culture, but few [know how to] walk the walk.

What culture is… not

Popularized in the tech and creative industries, culture is an important factor in attracting top talent and getting great work done. Yet, despite the beanbag chairs, beer on tap, and the friendly agency dog on a company’s team section, almost all organizations get it wrong. Culture is not about having a ping pong table.

The elephant is … always in the room

Organizations that choose to ignore culture do not get to experience a work environment sans-culture. Rather, they experience an accidental and almost always ineffective culture. Ignoring the elephant in the room does not make it disappear, only yields a culture that is undesirable.

What culture needs

Culture is much like a garden. If unattended it will always become ugly. And like a garden, it grows beautifully when we continue to prune weeds and misfits, give water, shine light, and at times sing a little song and show a little love. Paying attention and investing time is how your garden and culture will thrive.

A few (not so) simple tips

While an entire library on the subject may not be enough, below are a few practices proven to be effective.

1. Shaped by design

Culture can come from the top or the bottom, intentionally designed or accidentally shaped. When the leaders are not actively monitoring, cultivating, and fostering their company culture, they will have in their hands a culture that is undesirable. Great organizational culture is present when leaders take the time to observe, meditate, envision and discuss the topic.

2. Guided by values

Culture is influenced by shared values. Jim Collins says “core values are not something people ‘buy-in’ to. People must be predisposed to holding them.” It is the responsibility of the leaders to “find people who are already predisposed to sharing your core values”, and quickly let go of those who do not. Teams, customers, and clients know your company by what you do and tolerate, and not always by what you say.

Your actions speak so loudly, I can not hear what you are saying.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

3. Exemplified by leaders

We again look to the leaders of organizations. Leaders must walk the talk. Period. Steve Jobs bought one lamp to furnish his extremely minimalist lifestyle. Sir Richard Branson’s record for adventures is unrivalled among executives around the world. It is no surprise that Apple’s and Virgin’s company cultures emulate their leaders. One is poised in beautiful simplicity, the other youthful energy. So infectious, their company cultures have become iconic, global brand cultures.

December 15, 1982. Diana Walker/SJ/Contour by Getty Images

July 2017. Richard Branson kite surfing with model Denni Parkinso

4. Be selective of people, including customers

We get to work with clients who share complementary values and cultures. But it did not happen accidentally. In the early years, we took on clients not congruent to the cultural practices and attitudes we value. These experiences have always costed more than the monetary value gained. It is as important and wise to design your culture as to choose your audience. We have a saying at Pixel Dreams we share with our clients, ‘be selective of your people, including customers’.

Be selective of your people, including customers.


A closing thought on the topic… for now

Time and time again, we witness that‘culture eats strategy for breakfast’ as per Peter Drucker’s famous quote. Research has shown almost all leaders see culture as important. So why are there not many companies with great culture? Because it’s difficult, challenging, and almost always, very uncomfortable.

But it’s worth it.



On to the culture of Pixel Dreams


A 2021 reflection

Recently, we asked our teams about the culture at Pixel Dreams. The next part of our article is boastful. What’s more important than celebrating our culture, is we hope you are encouraged to invest in yours. If a bunch of wacky misfits can come together to form a healthy, happy, and productive culture, so can you. It’s worth it. You’re worth it. Your teams, customers, and clients are worth it.

If you would like to talk brand, culture, or brand culture, reach out to us any time. We would be delighted to share insights and ideas on the topics we are most passionately dedicated to.

5 small words, 8 big clouds

We asked our teams to describe the PD culture in five words. We organized the words into seven common themes. A word cloud was programmatically generated for each theme, and one for all together.

01. Progress
How we plan to take over the world.
We mean, raise I+C (Intelligence + Consciousness), and solve big world problems.
02. Process
Because we don’t rise to the level of our goals, we fall to the level of our systems.
03. Home
TGI-Monday. Wouldn’t want it any other way.
04. Teamwork
Teamwork is an organization’s #1 advantage.
05. Punny
The reason for the #no-context-posts & #random channels in Slack.
06. Proud
Just a little something to boast about.
No, ‘humble’ didn’t make the list!
070 One of a Kind
Love it or hate.
Take it or leave it. We are who we are.
08. PDT
All together now!


The boasting continues

Some lovely things our team members have said about Pixel Dreams.

The Author

Pierre Monké
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