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Corporate Culture 2016: Creating Cultures That Support Your Strategy

2016 Event

This event is the only conference in Canada devoted exclusively to corporate culture. The 2016 event focused on the essentials of how to build and sustain a culture that is right for your organization. Thought leaders and change makers shared case studies and best practices about real cultures at real organizations and how they have contributed to success in different dimensions.

Featured Speakers From the 2016 Event

Sarah Downey

Sarah Downey
President and Chief Executive Officer, Michael Garron Hospital
Toronto East Health Network

Jana Dybinski

Jana Dybinski
Vice-President, Marketing

Sean Fitzpatrick

Sean Fitzpatrick

Melody Panayiotou

Melody Panayiotou
Culture Catalyst

Avi Pollack

Avi Pollack
Head, Retail Solutions

David Swiggum

David Swiggum
Vice-President, Client and Sales Support
IBM Canada Ltd.

Adam Taylor

Adam Taylor
Managing Director
Development Dimensions International (DDI) Canada

Conference Chair and Program Developer, John Brewer, is known for his poetic summaries.

Corporate Culture 2016 Closing Thoughts

We came here to talk about culture and change
and ideas and speakers we’ve heard quite a range

we’ve heard from companies big and small
we’ve heard form speakers short and tall

some sought engagement, some customer focus
but all agreed culture is real—it’s not hocus pocus

for some would dismiss talk of culture as soft
our speakers at this idea they have scoffed

So now what is left to do you must ask
well I am left with an unenviable task

to summarize the things we have heard
a task so hard as to be absurd

given the speakers have been so diverse
I’ve decided to summarize in verse
I hope you don’t find this too perverse
and agree when I’m done that I could have done worse

so here are the five main things I’d like list
And I do realize there’s a lot I have missed


The key to success is often innovation
but there’s more to this than ideas and creation

just like everything that evolves, that’s alive
companies need to adapt to survive

and here culture plays a key role
innovation’s not a product of command and control

you need a culture where people share their ideas
where they can speak freely, let go of their fears

you need to exploit as well as explore
it’s not just about accumulating ideas, more more more

you need to get people to participate
if you want them and your organization to be great

they need to be given permission to fail
don’t turn failure into a career coffin nail


To do this you have to ask “why” and “who”
your company has purpose and personality just like you

so don’t just create a great culture so you look cool
because in the end you’ll just look like a fool
though a really neat t-shirt is quite a good tool

align your culture, your strategy, your values, your vision
focus on a great culture with laser precision

Don’t be tempted to chase all that’s shiny and new
make sure there is purpose to all that you do


Leaders for sure have a big role to play
but left on their own they can’t save the day

In leadership there’s no one size fits all
believing that will be your downfall

should you be mindful, transformational, or charismatic?

the answer surely is not automatic

But I think we can say the following is true
At least I think so, how about you

Leaders don’t need to be a hero
It’s okay for them to say they don’t know

They need insist on civilly and respect
because otherwise their culture will be wrecked

they need to encourage innovation
or risk a massive talent migration

help create a clarity of vision
don’t let it be blurred give that vision precision

it’s essential to be vulnerable, to show your human side
we are all in this together—don’t practice leadership apartheid

because as a leader doesn’t mean you have all the answers
that would be like staging swan lake and you’re going to be every dancer


People want more than a job they want purpose a reason
not having this is like cultural treason

but what exactly is engagement you ask
some are engaged in the job, team, mission or even the task

well without clear definition I’d say this is the place to start
engagement must involve the head and the heart

changing it is about the symbolic and instrumental
culture’s not about logic, it’s emotional

you can’t speak to logic you need to engage emotion
and then your organization will get forward motion


We have a profound need to connection and community
say please and thank you at every opportunity

deal with conflict don’t let it fester
be a respectful workplace investor

be proactive in identifying risk
do so quickly—be brisk!

does your organization reward being tough
or do you know when enough is enough?

judge others like you judge yourself—by what they intend
and try above all else not to offend

So there you are—but you say you want more?
okay here are some quick learnings before you head
out the door

culture change is hard I hear you say
yet some have achieved it in a single day

the potential of people has unlimited upside
so provide them with an culture that fills them with pride

try job crafting and interviews to discuss why people stay
and let me tell you it’s never about perks and pay

risk is a part of everything that we do
don’t fear it, it’s what allows you to do things that are new

so try new stuff and see if it works
those against experimenting—they are just jerks

what’s so funny about peace, love and understanding?
it’s one hell of a way to approach employee branding

you have the choice to move past fear
even leaders need to be seen to shed a tear

it’s about everyone, it’s personal—it’s a story

it’s not for those seeking individual glory

it’s not about those wanting their ego stroked
that’s the road to going broke

build your culture through celebration and recognition
think of them as your cultural ammunition
culture’s not about subtraction it’s addition
it’s a way of reinforcing your chosen mission
let people act without asking permission
build culture on trust not suspicion
innovate—break with tradition
create collaboration, not competition
make building culture an exploration, an expedition
it’s about emotion—not facts but intuition

So be thoughtful, be simple, be brave
culture is about so much more than how you behave

it’s also way more than engagement
because engagement is a generic arrangement

your culture is yours alone—it can’t be copied
it’s your unique stories but embodied

Culture then is a conversation
at its heart is communication and collaboration

So to conclude I'll end with where you should begin
Might I suggest calling out “I’m in”

Sorry one more thing I like to close with this

Look at this photo—you'll see something's amiss
Forget the email the text, the tweet, the pin the post you just can’t miss
And focus instead on the one you want to kiss


We’d like to thank our generous sponsors for their contribution to this event.

Development Dimensions International (DDI) logo

TalentMap logo

Rebel logo

Special Contributors

DOTS logo


Tri Fit Inc.

Social Media

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