Corporate Culture

Posted By on Apr 16, 2010 | 0 comments

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There’s a lot of wailing and gnashing of incisors about corporate culture, mostly by people in corporations. I worked at Microsoft for nearly fifteen of the best years of my life, and I’m hear to tell you, some of the gnashing was well worth the dental work.

I’m not even sure what that meant but it popped into my head and I had to write it. I think what I was trying to say was that “corporate culture” can be a drag. Of course, it doesn’t have to be and actually isn’t for a number of people who don’t have to use their Microsoft Premera coverage to fix corporately-gnashed teeth. Like anything in life, it depends on the attitude you bring to it every day.

But I’m not hear to give motivational speeches to my non-existent audience of unmotivated corporate bees. Some days, working in a corporation blows.

What is a corporate culture anyway? Does it exist?

While I was at Microsoft, I watched the company soar from about 35,000 employees to nearly 100,000. That’s why they have the company meeting at Safeco Field.

That’s too many people to have a culture that shares many values beyond what the broader culture shares. Microsoft puts a huge premium on diversity in hiring as well and one of the great things about working there was working with people from all over the world.

I’ve never heard anyone except corporate executives say, “I just love our corporate culture.” No. Not. Doesn’t happen. I’ve only heard the rank-and-file use the term pejoratively.

So it seems like anything you might call corporate culture is really how executives define a shared sense of belonging that doesn’t exist and employees define as some sense of oppression they feel from having to work in a place where the rules don’t always agree with how they think things should be.

I had no sense of belonging to Microsoft or its “culture” while I was there. I felt a strong sense of belonging to my group and our products, especially our very sophisticated Flight Simulator. Microsoft as a corporate entity seemed remote.

I never resented that remote entity because it seemed remote and I realized, having a degree in psychology, that large organizations of human beings tend to behave and organize like large organizations of human beings. In other words, one should not be surprised at how corporations act internally or externally, especially when they become huge.

This is without a doubt the most oddly rambling blog post I’ve written since…well, at least since my last odd rambling blog post. But I enjoyed writing it.

Ever have one of those blog days when it’s all a haze? Tell us.

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