Great Companies Have Great Cultures
July 27, 2018

When someone says, “we have a great company culture”, or “we need to improve our company culture” – what are they really saying?

What makes up a company culture, and what makes it desirable or not?

At Awesome Journey our definition of a “Healthy Culture” is:

“A Network of intentionally designed conversations that are built from the organization’s core values and mission/purpose statement to drive a set of specific behaviors to create the right outcomes like quality products, service, people, and teams.”

Your organizational culture lives in your conversations and language, and the outcomes you are able to achieve together.

A sign of a healthy and happy culture is a lack of negative background conversations.

Background conversations are water cooler talk and side conversations where true feelings are often revealed, frustrations are aired, and disengagement brews.

If there are background conversations occurring, they will dominate all internal conversations in your organization, and they will strain and hinder trust, engagement, communication, and performance in negative ways.

Organizations that have “Healthy Cultures” are able to leverage their culture to differentiate themselves in the marketplace.

Bridgewater Associates

The whole organization is committed and aligned to living by a set of principles to become great. This alignment creates a shared culture that is understood and practiced daily.

Some of their guiding principles:

  • Be radically open minded
  • Give and receive Real-Time Feedback to my colleagues
  • Own your outcomes to be great
  • Hold yourself and others accountable
  • See problems as an opportunity to learn

Book about their healthy culture is entitled, “Principles”, by Ray Dalio (CEO)


Google’s belief that “High Performance Teams Need Psychological Safety” is the guiding force behind their culture, their commitment, and their secret to building great teams.

Some of their guiding principles:

  • Radical Candor – “Caring Personally and challenging directly”
  • Constant Innovation – through collaboration, time to dream, fun and give staff Challenging problems to work on = innovation
  • Intense Hiring Process to attract the best people


From personal experience, the Disney culture is real and deep – it makes you truly believe you are in the happiest place on earth!

Some of their guiding principles:

  • Defined language that is embedded into Disney personnel that creates a unique experience for all staff and their guests
  • Customers/visitors are called “Guests”
  • Staff are either “on stage” or “off stage” – commitment to magical atmosphere
  • Staff in research and design are called “Imagineers”
  • All staff are called “Cast Members”
  • Deep commitment to training staff to be great through Disney Institute
  • Commitment to live 4 core values – Safety, Courtesy, The Show & Efficiency
  • Clear understanding of ideal target client and world-class value and service


Some of their guiding principles:

  • Clear set of core values to support staff – Leadership, People-Centric, Transformation & vision that fosters “Care, compassion and human connection
  • Deep commitment to learning for all staff through “Barry-Wehmiller University” their foundational course is entitled, “Truly Human Leadership” that all staff take
  • Clear set of Guiding Principles that is driving 12,000 employees with revenue around $2.8 Billion
  • They are in Demand!

Book about their healthy culture is entitled, “Everybody Matters: The Extraordinary Power of Caring for Your People Like Family”, by Robert Chapman (CEO)


Some of their guiding principles:

  • Extraordinary results in the marketplace – 15 Blockbusters that went from idea to being in the theaters in 5 years (Disney’s average is 7 years from idea to theater)
  • Deep commitment to creativity through collaboration, challenging the status quo, being great when you show up to play, and embracing real time quality feedback through their “Daily Review Process”
  • Achieve greatness through High Performance Teams
  • Core principle that makes greatness at Pixar is – “Everyone must have the freedom to communicate with anyone!”

Book about their healthy culture is entitled, “Collective Genius: The Art and Practice of Leading Innovation”, by Linda Hill

A Healthy Culture creates a differentiating factor that is almost impossible to compete against. A company can compete on price, service and products, but they cannot simply copy your culture (network of conversations), which makes culture incredibly powerful.



In your next Executive Meeting initiate a dialogue about all the different conversations that are impacting your organization (two examples – meetings and onboarding new staff).

Are the conversations in these meetings built on your company’s core values and mission/purpose statement?

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