Vision, core values and corporate culture backfire

This post will be controversial.

The goal of this post is to document a phenomenon I have observed: vision, core values and corporate culture constantly backfire to the point of being negatively disruptive.

Examples and Symptoms of the backfiring.

1) Company A has all sorts of value statements, missions,  training courses and service awards etc. around “delighting the customer”. Yet the present “waiting line” for a customer to get to a service attendant in 45 minutes, and the infuriating voice menu that they have to listen to when they dial in is 5 minutes long. All the staff view corporate values related to delighting customers as (in Hebrew) “harta-barta”, which roughly translated means “unrefined crap”.

2) Company B’s culture emphasizes the advantages about being global in all its corporate artifacts.  Yet all the corporate officers come from the same ( North European) country, English is used sparingly in all in corporate emails from very senior staff, and the  HQ plants a representative from home base to spy on each regional manager outside the home geography. Employees say “every time I hear the word global, I want to throw up”.

3) Company C has made “innovation” its middle name, as reflected in mission, values, and culture. Yet this just provokes only  cynicism because the company makes money by operational excellence by cost cutting. There is no other innovation.

Why does this backfiring occur?

1) Business reality changes (competition, context, client baseall the time ,and these cultural artifacts tend become firm outdated relgious tenets.

2) Corporate cultural artifacts are administered as a religion by HR priests, and this leads to cynicism.

3) The vision, culture and values are often just part of a management system seen as manipulated and oppressive , and people learn to beat systems.