I was at a breakfast recently and someone asked me to define culture.

The definition that I offered was that culture is a combination of purpose and values that defines the relationship between the organization and its people and everyone around them.

The questioner, now retired with many years of corporate experience asked me if I could boil it down to communication.

And fundamentally that is the answer, but there is a deeper connection to understanding the role of culture.

Culture has become the buzzword of the decade and organizations still struggle to find a path to creating rich and robust culture and business excellence. Once achieved this yields a measurable return on culture.

The question is around what components go into making up this return of culture. I believe there are three core elements that every organization needs to achieve this.


Leadership is the first of these. This links very closely with the idea offered at breakfast – being that fundamentally good leaders, communicate well.

There is however much more to leading in the new world including challenges that were never imagined, even a few years ago.


The second fundamental component of success on this journey is strategy.  The team needs to understand the direction they are heading. This is at its most basic level the definition of strategy. The definition of culture that I offered earlier had as a fundamental component the idea of purpose. Purpose is something that binds the organization together and is akin to a strategy.


The third of these interlinked components is culture. At its core, culture is the glue that binds the leadership and the strategy to work in harmony to create a return on culture.

When all three of these components are working in unison, the organizations can create and achieve a return on culture.

In the next few weeks, I will unpack this model in some detail, exploring all the components and how those translate for business leaders to create business excellence and rich and robust cultures with measurable results. 

What are you doing to create a return on culture ?