Justin Cobb on Creating a Remarkable Company Culture

Business / March 15, 2019

Company culture is an interesting phenomenon. The idea has been around for a long time, first suggested by Dr. Elliot Jacques in the early fifties, as he analyzed the traditions of factory workers. Many smart and forward-thinking CEOs and business owners were using the term in the eighties and nineties. Then, it was used mainly in the context of increasing productivity, and avoiding ‘wasted time’. It is only in the last ten years that the term has evolved into something more holistic, representing the overall health of a company, and its employees. We talked to Justin Cobb about some of the factors that might contribute to a positive company culture, in the modern world, and how to tell if you are paying attention to those factors.


One of the first things that a company culture must be is recognizable. The values that make up your company culture do not have to be the same as every other company. What they do have to be, is defined and easy to understand. A strong company culture is one that every person at every level in your company can easily articulate to an outsider. A weak company culture, by contrast, is one that you would either struggle to explain or that a listener would struggle to understand on hearing it.

Quick exercise: Ask yourself if your employees know what the values of your company are? If not, it may be time to ask yourself if you know.


Company culture is about creating an environment in which all employees, at all levels, can thrive. If a single person in your company feels that they do not have opportunities for growth, you may need to rethink your business values. The opposite of nurturing is neglecting or even hindering. It is perfectly possible to inadvertently foster a company culture that neglects or even hinders the growth of your employees.

Quick exercise: Think of each role in your company, and ask yourself what opportunity they have for growth and progression. Now ask yourself what you personally have learned recently.


The goal of a company culture is for a workforce to be healthy, happy and functional. But it is also important to retain an edge in the marketplace. Businesses cannot thrive without making money. The happiest employee in the world is functionally lacking if they do not contribute to that end. Innovation is one of the key ways that businesses can stay competitive. It ensures that clients will continue to choose your business over the competition. Many companies stifle their innovation potential by not allowing their workforce to experiment within the framework of their roles. Are you missing out on a competitive edge because you are ‘sticking to the system’?

Quick exercise: Sit down with an employee from a department that is performing worse than expected. Ask them how they would improve performance. Take time to consider their responses and look for something concrete to implement.


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