Photography, Perspective and Corporate Culture



Photography has come a long way since I got my first camera in the 1960’s.  It was a Leica SLR with a normal lens and a telephoto, which I took with me to Beirut, Lebanon during my Junior year of college as an exchange student. I took hundreds of pictures, most of which didn’t come out that well, but I still had to develop the film and print contact sheets to find the good ones. At that time there was no fish eye lens or panoramic shooting and setting the exposure and focus were mostly manual activities. And it was heavy. And I certainly couldn’t take it under water on my diving trips without extra housing protection.  But at that time it was the best way for me to record the world around me and bring it home so others could hopefully understand my life-changing experience in Lebanon.

iphone-photo-kitNow days, photography has been revolutionized, first by digital and then by the iPhone. With an iPhone 7s a person can take hundreds of photos, see the results instantly on the screen, discard the bad ones, send them around the world to friends via Messenger or email, and even colour correct them. All within the same small, compact, light smartphone.  And there is even an ability to take panorama shots and video with the iPhone. Some creative types are shooting movies with just an iPhone. Plus it has an internal zoom capability.  And there are inexpensive clip on lenses for real telephoto picture-taking. Best of all, I can shoot underwater!

Comparing my old printed photographs with these new digital pictures gives one an entirely different perspective of the world. You can see more, capture more, save more and share more of the world around you.  And as a result, perhaps even better understand the world and your surroundings.

Apollo-17And remember those first photographs of earth from space? In December 1972, the crew of Apollo 17 took the first ‘Blue Marble’ image of the entire planet Earth and we gained a new perspective about the fragility of the planet we all live on.  Our planet is one big closed system and changes in one part can have a profound impact on other parts.

A New Perspective on Corporate Culture

In my recent book, CULTURE RULES! The 10 Core Principles of Corporate Culture, I look at corporate culture from a different, wide-angle, all encompassing perspective, using new tools to really understand what shapes, drives, and sustains the habitual work behaviors and attitudes that most people think of as corporate culture.  Just thinking of corporate culture as behaviors is like trying to photograph a broad landscape through a straw!  You only see a narrow aspect of the entire scene.  Behaviors are only one part of corporate culture, the output, or results of what I term, the “corporate culture business system”.

The system is the culture.

By taking on the perspective and understanding that corporate culture is really a business system and an end-to-end value chain, not only can we see the outputs (=behaviors), but also the inputs and drivers that interact within that system to create your specific and unique corporate culture. All cultures have similar drivers, but how they are woven together, their relative strengths, and how they interact means that each company has a different corporate culture, unique to it.

While two companies may be described as having a culture of poor teamwork, there is not enough information in this assessment for management to either reshape or change that set of behaviours.  But if we look at all the internal drivers, such as compensation, hiring practices, shared objectives, budgeting processes, reward systems and the focus of top management, it is now much easier to understand why there is poor teamwork, but more importantly, what drives those behaviours. And now we know the levers that need to be changed in order to produce a different set of behavioral outcomes.

Change the system, change the culture.

What are some of these “culture drivers” within the corporate culture business system?  Here are some of the key drivers of corporate culture and their relative impact on building and sustaining a company culture.  And you might be surprised by the relative strengths and which elements are the stronger drivers of culture.

Culture drivers

Learn More About Your Corporate Culture

If you want to better understand your own corporate culture, and find the important levers for change, take a look at CULTURE RULES!, now available on Amazon in paperback and eBook format.

culture rules book pictureThis wonderful book will transform our understanding of corporate culture. Seeing culture as a business system, and the 10 Core Principles that govern culture, can help leaders at all levels develop a high-performance organization. Finally, an approach to corporate culture that makes a compelling business case!

~ Stephen M. R. Covey, New York Times bestselling author of The Speed of Trust.



Written and Posted by: John R. Childress

Senior Executive Advisor on Leadership, Culture and Strategy Execution Issues,
Business Author and Advisor to CEOs
Visiting Professor, IE Business School, Madrid

Twitter @bizjrchildress

Read John’s blog,

On Amazon:

CULTURE RULES!: The 10 Core Principles of Corporate Culture

LEVERAGE: The CEO’s Guide to Corporate Culture

FASTBREAK: The CEO’s Guide to Strategy Execution

About johnrchildress

John Childress is a pioneer in the field of strategy execution, culture change, executive leadership and organization effectiveness, author of several books and numerous articles on leadership, an effective public speaker and workshop facilitator for Boards and senior executive teams. In 1978 John co-founded The Senn-Delaney Leadership Consulting Group, the first international consulting firm to focus exclusively on culture change, leadership development and senior team alignment. Between 1978 and 2000 he served as its President and CEO and guided the international expansion of the company. His work with senior leadership teams has included companies in crisis (GPU Nuclear – owner of the Three Mile Island Nuclear Plants following the accident), deregulated industries (natural gas pipelines, telecommunications and the breakup of The Bell Telephone Companies), mergers and acquisitions and classic business turnaround scenarios with global organizations from the Fortune 500 and FTSE 250 ranks. He has designed and conducted consulting engagements in the US, UK, Europe, Middle East, Africa, China and Asia. Currently John is an independent advisor to CEO’s, Boards, management teams and organisations on strategy execution, corporate culture, leadership team effectiveness, business performance and executive development. John was born in the Cascade Mountains of Oregon and eventually moved to Carmel Highlands, California during most of his business career. John is a Phi Beta Kappa scholar with a BA degree (Magna cum Laude) from the University of California, a Masters Degree from Harvard University and was a PhD candidate at the University of Hawaii before deciding on a career as a business entrepreneur in the mid-70s. In 1968-69 he attended the American University of Beirut and it was there that his interest in cultures, leadership and group dynamics began to take shape. John Childress resides in London and the south of France with his family and is an avid flyfisherman, with recent trips to Alaska, the Amazon River, Tierra del Fuego, and Kamchatka in the far east of Russia. He is a trustee for Young Virtuosi, a foundation to support talented young musicians. You can reach John at or
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