The term Corporate Culture can sometimes be used as a cliché but if one were to study the organizations that continue to be successful during economically challenging periods, most likely the organizations would possess a strong corporate culture. A truly defined and visible corporate culture is typically the bedrock of a strong company.
I recently spent a few days with my family at Disneyland. Although Disneyland is probably one of the most enjoyable family adventures (excluding the large crowds), Disneyland is an expensive adventure. With the massive costs associated with Disneyland, how is it possible that they continue to be so successful? The American economy is the worst it has been in decades. Unemployment remains at levels not previously seen by most people. Even those individuals who are employed appear to be earning far less than in years past. So why would so many people still use their limited funds to go to Disneyland?
The corporate culture of Disneyland is one that results in an outward image of the happiest place on earth. The corporate culture of Disneyland was no more evident than during our recent visit. My family is one which includes an Autistic child. Disneyland can be an extremely exciting environment but it can also be one which may over-stimulate and/or amplify certain OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder) behaviors.
One unfortunate challenge which we must manage is the OCD behavior of the flushing of the toilet - there are different size toilets, there industrial vs. residential, there are environmentally conscious low flow and the extra powerful (the water flows at different forces and are even at times different colors). With all of the variations, my son Jackson has become a person who wants not only to inspect every possible toilet in existence but complete a quality control analysis on each unit as well. Needless to say, this can become problematic in public location. Not only can it become a battle of will, but it can be an embarrassing situation due to many individual’s ignorances of the numerous neurological disorders that exist in the world and their quickness to pass judgment.
With that said, there are a lot of toilets in Disneyland. Although it was somewhat easy to redirect Jackson focus when we would pass a restroom due to the overall excitement of Disneyland, everyone needs to use the restroom at some point. So I took him into (what turned out to be) a highly populated restroom. He initially did his business and there was no issue. But, that false sense of security was quickly crushed as he realized the mass quantity of toilets that existed in this one location. This generated an Autistic Moment.
It took several minutes to work through but not as long as I would have initially thought. As I worked through the situation and Jackson and I was walking towards the exit, I realized that we were the only two remaining in the restroom – which was odd considering the average population anywhere in Disneyland. As we walked out of the restroom, there stood a Disneyland employee quietly sweeping. He gave me a nod, smiled at Jackson and told him to have fun today. Jackson replied; Ok and we walked on our way.
This Disneyland employee did not judge but he did provide an environment in which I could deal with the issue in a quick and quiet manner. Although it was apparent as I walked out of the restroom that he had been redirecting the public to a different restroom to give us our space, he did not make mention of it. In fact, although he may have appeared to ignore the situation, he did not ignore my son. He made a point to engage him and ask if he was going to have fun. The act of this one employee insured us having an absolutely wonderful day at the park.
Later that evening, we were back in our hotel room (Disneyland Resort) and I happened to get on the elevator with two younger employees. One was obviously a trainee. As I quietly stood in the elevator, I listened in to the mentoring of this new employee by the senior employee. Everything that was said was said with such conviction. In addition, everything that was said carried a common theme; our job is to ensure the happiness and safety of our customers. It was obvious to me ease-dropping in on their conversation that this theme was not simply a cliché. It was obvious by the tone and conviction in their voice that this was their culture. This is the same culture that was evident by the employee outside the restroom.
Corporate Cultures cannot be slogans or a motto. The tone of a corporate culture may be highlighted in a mission statement but in the end, true corporate culture is the foundation of an organization. The culture typically spreads based on the examples of its leadership. However, one critical thing to remember…………………leadership examples is based on the leader’s actions (not necessarily their words).
Husband, father, coffee connoisseur and lover of all things hockey. At 51 I sometimes wonder have I done enough. I have been married to my best friend for 30 years. She knows all my faults and loves me anyway, As a father of “almost always” perfect boys, I am always surprised at what life has to offer. It is messy, scary, thrilling, and always fun.