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Posted By Hitchcock Marketing & Communications on 12/12/2018

Are You Nurturing a 360-Degree Vision Culture, or a Tunnel Vision Culture?

Are You Nurturing a 360-Degree Vision Culture, or a Tunnel Vision Culture?

Corporate culture – an organization’s values, norms, beliefs and behaviors that help define the business – is influenced by many factors: the type of industry the company is in, its mission statement and its employees all play a role. And an organization’s leaders play a key role in shaping corporate culture as well. In fact, the corporate culture of an organization depends on a lot on its leadership.

It might seem intuitive that the smaller a company, the greater the role a leader will have on shaping corporate culture. Taken to the extreme, a sole proprietor without any employees isthe entire company and, by extension, entirely defines the corporate culture.

In general, the larger the company, the further away the CEO is from the front-line employees and, one might think, the less influence s/he has on shaping culture. This belief might especially resonate with CEOs of large, integrated healthcare systems. Their very complexity and the wide diversity of roles and functions clearly present challenges from a corporate culture standpoint.

And yet, Apple provides us with a great example of how the corporate culture of even the very largest of companies can be fundamentally shaped by the man or woman at the top.

Apple is the largest company in the world in terms of market capitalization, worth hundreds of billions of dollars. However, most people who even remotely follow the world of business and finance are well aware of the impact Steve Jobs had on the company. Last year, in a story for NPR’s Morning Edition, Laura Sydell took a look at how even a behemoth like Apple experienced a culture sea change when Steve Jobs passed away and was replaced by current CEO Tim Cook. Cook is still at the helm, but has become increasingly challenged to compete against Microsoft, according to this Business Insider piece.

Sydell writes of a former employee, Bob Burrough, a software engineer and manager who with Apple as part of the team that created the iPhone. Under Jobs, he said, employees were encouraged to take personal responsibility for their work and the products they created and improved.

That culture changed, though, Burrough says, when Tim Cook took on the CEO role. Sydell writes:  

“Burrough says employees were getting the message to look down and do their jobs. Burrough says that when he saw something wrong, ‘the way that I was expected to deal with it was shut my mouth and do my job, and take care of whatever my assigned responsibility was and (not) worry about what anybody else is doing’."

That’s quite a shift from the culture of personal responsibility, innovation and involvementthat Jobs nurtured. Jobs is rumored to have been a tough, taskmaster with high expectations. Yet, somehow, with Jobs at the helm, innovation flourished. Burrough, who left Apple in 2014, thinks the new culture has had an obvious impact on Apple’s products. Consumers may agree.

What is the current culture of your hospital? Consider how that culture might impact the patient experience. Employees who encouraged, as Burroughs once was, to take personal responsibility for their work act much differently than those who are encouraged to keep their heads down and focus only on their assigned tasks. In healthcare, we all need to own the patient experience. We all need to take personal responsibility for the entire process that leads to exceptional patient care and service delivery.

Is yours a culture of 360-degree vision or tunnel vision?