August 2018 Educate

A (Business) Culture Runs Through It

Written By: Philip N. Kabler, ESQ.

Visualize, if you will, a ‘spine’ running through a business enterprise, from the line-employees through middle-management then to upper-management and to the company’s customers and communities where it operates. If that spine shifts, bends, warps or (hopefully never) breaks, the enterprise adjusts accordingly. Sometimes to the benefit of the business, sometimes to its detriment and often neutrally as the enterprise goes about its daily affairs. The spine is, then, a powerful internal force controlling all elements of the life of a business.

Moving from figurative to actual, the spine is the business’s culture. And culture is the energizing force around which a company is focused and lives and breathes.

Culture directs a business’s internal and external relationships and operations. How the producing employees create and produce. How the service employees act and react. How management at all levels organizes the firm’s operations for implementation. How the salesforce represents the company in the marketplace. And how the marketplace perceives the company. Culture is, then, the basis of the business’s raison d’être, its core purpose and being.

From just this introduction it can be concluded that a stable, yet flexible, culture is essential to the life of a business. It permeates all the internal and external stakeholder relationships, informs all levels of operations and is infused into all aspects of a company’s being.

Determining a business’s culture does not happen randomly. It is not a drive-by outcome. It is, instead, the product of intentional and thoughtful planning. And the steps to get there are:

  • Deciding on the need for a plan
  • Assessing the venture’s needs and assets
  • Constructing the plan
    Note: This phase should take about 20% of the overall process
  • Implementing the plan
    Note: This phase should take about 70% of the overall process
  • Monitoring the plan in its implementation and flexibly adjusting the plan on the fly as the technical/financial/regulatory/political environment evolves over time
    Note: This phase (+/- 10%) is an ongoing process which lasts from day 1 of planning through the entire life of implementation
  • It should be noted that if an enterprise is to have in place a functional culture, planning and implementation is neither top-down nor bottom-up. Rather it involves both internal and external stakeholders, because those are the people who must carry the water of bringing a theoretical way-of-being into an actual way-of-life.

Let us focus on one element of a business’s culture. Its approach to ethics. While ethics is thought to be higher-order and philosophical, instead of daily grind productive, it leads to actual outputs and outcomes in question form. “Is this a company whose employees want to come to and stay?”

It is, after all, more expensive to replace a high return-on-investment employee than it is to retain them. “Is this a company whose customers want to patronize because they know they will get a fair bargain and follow-up when needed?”

When a business enterprise has an intentional operating culture, all concerned can direct their energy and resources away from determining if a decision is the company way, rather, they can produce based upon shared values and systemic processes.”


“Is this a company whose communities, regulators and the marketplace in-general can trust, both daily and over the long-tern?”

And, perhaps most significant to the business’s principals, “Is this a company with which lenders and investors will feel comfortable participating, because they have a merited belief it will be operated effectively, efficiently and economically?”

Each of those ‘philosophical’ questions about ethics, then, leads to monetization events.

Many of the articles in this series tend towards actionable steps and measures, typically with a proactive risk management underpinning. This article, however, is purposively a bit more of a reflective think piece. Entrepreneurs, managers and operational professionals are so heavily occupied at all waking times with their granular concerns that they do not have opportunities to examine the ventures which comprise the sum of those seemingly endless details.

When a business enterprise has an intentional operating culture, all concerned can direct their energy and resources away from determining if a decision is the company way, rather, they can produce based upon shared values and systemic processes. This leads to a company which is resilient to identify needed innovations, responsive to those changes, and will stand the test of time.

So, then, let us take just a bit of time to focus on our business’s spine. A healthy business culture, like a healthy spine, yields positive results for the entire body, in this case the company.

* An obvious reference to the 1992 movie “A River Runs Through It”
** For information on this subject please see “Get a Map to Keep Your Business on Course”
*** See and for more on those topics.

The article above is not intended to serve as legal advice, and readers should not rely on it as such. It is offered only as general information. Readers should consult with an attorney regarding their legal matters, as every situation is unique.

For more information, call Philip N. Kabler, Esq. of the Gainesville, FL office of Bogin, Munns & Munns, P.A. at (352) 332-7688,, where he practices in the areas of business, real estate, banking, and equine law.

Leave a Comment