Great corporate culture can be hard to pin down in words. It goes deeper into the fabric of a company than birthday days off, sales incentives, and free coffee Fridays. But, when an organization knows its culture – and has embedded it into everyday work routines so thoroughly that all employees are unified in values and goals – it can be a powerful tool driving staff retention and increased profits. But how does an organization start defining its culture? Embracing conflict – says Jay Doran – is key.
A lifelong student of culture, Jay Doran has made it his mission to help companies find clarity in their beliefs, purpose, goals, and values. He is the visionary entrepreneur behind the advisory firm Culture Matters and is a confessed culture obsessive. “The word culture is so engrossing, so all-encompassing,” says Jay, “I try to understand the world to better understand myself.” He believes that companies open to diversity in thought, inclusivity, and constant growth are those that will be able to take advantage of the processes needed to define their true corporate culture. Crucially, they are companies that are willing to embrace and work through conflict.
Jay says, “if the collective ‘we’ are going to understand a culture, then they must do this through open conflict.” Diversity in thought, vision, and values should be embraced and debated. It is only by learning from these experiences that clarity will emerge. He adds, “Learning takes stress, but stress needs responsibility to make sure a culture does not break down, so people do not break down.” Jay’s advice to CEOs is to welcome conflict. He says, “Embrace conflict as it comes your way to understand your counterparts better.” The result? Organizations that have a clear mission, values system, and core culture. Subsequently, these are organizations that can reap significant financial rewards. “The margin of profit of a culture is related to how employees interact with each other and their customers,” says Jay. “More profit is the result of more productive interactions.”
Since founding Culture Matters in 2016, Jay Doran has worked behind the scenes with a range of CEOs and business founders to find solutions to problems in the context of productivity, strategy, turnover, brand alignment, and profit. While corporate culture is his focus, Jay is on a personal mission to “do something worth doing, to live a life helping people think, act, and do in more beneficial ways.” He recognizes how difficult it can be to define a culture and that for many the word is misunderstood to mean incentives, social offerings, and dress-down days. Instead, Jay stresses, firms should be looking at culture in terms of competence, meaning, productivity and fulfillment.
Crucially, in corporate terms, Jay Doran has discovered that well-defined culture is the key to increased productivity. However, the process of clarifying that culture is not an easy one to navigate. To seriously embed a cultural goal companies need to embrace conflict and be open to a diversity of thought. As Jay Doran says, “Cultural development beyond catchphrases or buzzwords takes serious and methodical work. However, financially, the payoff is exponential.”