Defining Culture

The DeMarco Culture Model defines culture as the sum of the history, folklore, and values that, taken together, make up the unique identity of a society at a given point in time.  To understand culture in a family business context is to understand what distinguishes families and businesses, one from another.  This is equally true for both family-first businesses, and business-first families.

The reality is that individuals, families, and businesses are each made up of a variety of unique cultures and subcultures.  The uniqueness is not due to the individual elements of the culture.  Those elements are usually quite common.  Rather, the uniqueness comes from the distinctive blend of elements at particular points in time.  While defining that “distinctive blend ” is important, knowing what to do with it is of even greater significance!

Our Business & Family Culture (BFC) Report is based on interviews and surveys designed around our proprietary culture model.  It is a truly powerful tool that most often acts as a map for a  superhighway that gets stakeholders from here to]there, the there being a desired future place.  It is a very accurate means of communication about the unique elements of the people of a culture by identifying

  • who they are
  • what they value
  • why they behave the way they do

Ultimately, our BFC Report differentiates between the critical, important, and nice-to-have values, and makes recommendations on how to inspire those values in stakeholder behavior.  It has been successfully used in:

  • twenty-three operating companies of a global business-first family organization where common executive & managerial performance  standards were sought for their succession planning process
  • family-first business where common values-based performance standards were sought for preparing the business for acquisition/merger