Corporate Culture Interview

Jozef Opdeweegh – Corporate Culture Interview

Video Transcription


Jos, we wanted to talk today about driving transformation through corporate culture it’s a phrase we hear a lot about corporate culture. What does it actually mean to you?

What is Corporate Culture?

Corporate culture, in my mind, is the what is corporate culture combination of a set of core behaviors and values that unify a group. Unifies if you want a group of people, whether it’s a corporation, whether it’s an association of people or what have you, and so on.

Corporate Context

Corporate culture is the set of core behaviors and core values that unify, in our particular case, the citizens if you want to connect a group, it’s hard to encourage in a bigger environment.


The company but there are a lot of factors in the environment that also determines, obviously, how hard it is to implement cultural change, and the legacy of the business is one of them. You may have a small company that has a certain legacy that stems from a much larger PLC background or may have had a much larger market gap. It is complex for instance, Connect Group is a good example, I would say there are other elements, such as the average tenure of

the workforce if you have a younger workforce, it’s easier to implement cultural change, and if you have all the work for us if you work in a very competitive environment where you have

to show agility because of the competitive framework. Where you have to be creative and you have to come up with new ideas or new products that are an easier environment because it’s much less change of first than other environments. So, there are a lot of sort of dynamic aspects that surround if you want an organization that determines how quickly you can implement change, but as a rule, it’s easier, obviously, in smaller organizations than our large organizations.


Experience in evolving corporate cultures what would your tips be house should we go about I think it’s about repeat repeat repeat I think it’s about starting every meeting after you do your

safety message with the core behaviors that typify the citizen of connect group and not

just in the sense of ‘hey, these are our six or behaviors or core values,’ no utilize specific examples of how adhering to those core behaviors has helped the organization or the individual and in terms of achieving certain personal goals or certain professional goals. That’s the way to start I think every meeting in addition to that we.


have to carry the message the leadership team has to carry the message when we do

our town halls; we have to talk about culture time and time again I always say if you don’t get tired of hearing yourself talking about the core behavior, you should haven’t spoken about

them enough, it’s almost a politician’s life if you want in terms of talking about that specific topic. But it’s extremely important, and one of the things that I would say are the larger the task is the transformational task that’s in front of you, the larger the importance becomes of the corporate culture and the larger the importance of having everybody aligns in terms of behaviors become right so, I would.


Say corporate culture is also a very important tool and in accelerating large transformational tasks, and we shouldn’t of course, engage in an exercise of self-deception cultural change takes

time but most certainly you accelerate the process by talking about it and by giving specific examples and by making it a living conversation rather than you know some words on a poster somewhere it’s written on the wall, yes thank you very much for sharing

your views, thank you.

The Coins in Our Pockets 

Originally Published in Fair Value

The coins we carry in our pockets are in many ways remarkable. Their heritage, as tokens of nominal value, stretches back to the very origins of trade. From the first crudely minted discs to today’s complex designs, coins have enabled more than mere exchange: they facilitate our movement, support complex transactions, and are founded on communal trust. In a sense, they are a physical embodiment of millennia of human industry and invention—the ultimate everyday symbol of our collective achievements.

And yet, how often do we stop to examine them? Unless you’re a numismatist like me, I suspect you seldom give them much thought. This is a pity, for their designs alone can remind us of what we owe to others and the past. On every US coin, for example, is minted the motto, e pluribus unum (Out of Many, One), which refers to the union of states and the idea that we are more than the sum of our parts.

In writing the essays in this book, I’ve come to reflect on my personal journey, not only as a leader in business but, more broadly, as a father, statistician, and sports fan. No matter how we define ourselves or measure our success, I’m more conscious than ever that unless we live like Robinson Crusoe, we must all give thanks and pay tribute to others. Those of us who’ve risen to senior positions have an even greater obligation to do so.

Working and Collaborating with Others Matters

Malcolm Gladwell, in his debut book, The Tipping Point, wrote of the importance of Mavens-those persons whose knowledge and wisdom plays a vital role in the adoption of popular trends. Often, in organizations and social movements, we can trace seminal decisions back to their influence. At a personal level, too, most of us can name individuals to whom-either directly or by way of a connected thread— we can link the progress and direction of our lives.

Early in my career, I was fortunate enough to work at a financial organization for a leader who combined the expectations of hard work and analysis with a softer side that took time to encourage a young man to make the most of his talents. It was through him that I first learned the value of communicating with care and the power of modesty as a means to motivate. He showed me, too-and with great patience on his part-that mistakes are part of our progress.

Firmness of Mind Matters, but so does Action 

Later, on my first appointment as a CEO, I was blessed with a chairman who taught me much about the need for the firmness of mind. Leadership—and indeed many of the big decisions in our lives can be beset by doubtful voices, which, if we allow them to become too loud, result only in mixed messages and vacillation. It was through him that I learned to marry an openness to new ideas with a necessary clarity of purpose and direction. As we’ve seen, Bertrand Russell, in The Conquest of Happiness, talked of something similar: when faced with conflicting options, he said we must act on the best available information and then hold to our decision unless or until there is clear evidence to the contrary.

The reference to Russell illustrates that great minds have never been more available to us. Bookshops and libraries are a wellspring of wisdom-so to the internet if we use it with care. In this respect, some of my mentors are people I’ve never met-and, yet through their works, I’m constantly learning, continually challenged, and forever curious. It has long struck me as a sadness that so many college graduates give up their studies to begin their careers. That’s not to say we should all be academics in our spare time, but maintaining that essential curiosity feeds and pays tribute to the wonderful gift that is our collective understanding.

Mentorship and Positive Role Models Matter

I learned this from my father, a quintessential polymath and my greatest mentor and friend in life; the debt I owe to him and his gentle influence cannot be overstated. Of course, when I say debt, I really mean gratitude, for, like all the best mentors, he would not wish for payment. This reminds me of a former colleague who had an unrelenting belief in our duty to make better decisions, always seeking to test and improve for the benefit of all. He was one of the most intelligent people I’ve ever met and yet, far from displaying the hubris of certainty, he tenaciously challenged the status quo, blending a scientific mindset with a kindness and warmth that spoke to and quietly enhanced—my personal values.

And isn’t this what great mentors do?

Epiphanies Happen but Not All the Time 

Very few of us experience a “Road to Damascus” moment that changes our outlook overnight. Indeed, my core beliefs in liberalism, meritocracy, and a duty of care to those less fortunate have not radically changed since my college days. But by learning from the perspectives and wisdom of others around me, those convictions have been enriched and refined. I hope this never ceases; I hope, too-as, they would remind me—that I remain open to the evangelism of a sort, for there is merit in radical thinking if we are to make step changes. Liberté, égalité, fraternité the motto of the French Revolution (and on the reverse of its Euro coins)-is a useful reminder that the values we hold most dear were once heretical thoughts.

But whether our knowledge is founded on education or epiphany makes little difference to our dues. Science and mathematics are a ten-thousand-year endeavor; democracy-and much of our philosophy-comes from ancient Greece; the very languages we use to communicate are founded on social constructs. Similarly, today, our industries, our health services, our transportation careers, and the opportunities which come with them are built on the efforts of our forebears and contemporaries.

In writing these essays, I’m clearer than ever that the idea of the self-made person is contradictory to an interdependent, multicultural, increasingly global world. We are, all of us, carried on the shoulders of giants. Even a genius like Leonardo da Vinci served as an apprentice; those of us less gifted are-in a sense-bound to a lifetime of learning from others. We should see that as joy-not a trial, as a credit, not a debit—in the balance sheet of life. Or perhaps, as two sides of the same coin-the many and the one, each dependent on the other.

The Banshees of Inisherin

Just occasionally, we come across something – a person, a performance, a project – that metaphorically hits us in the solar plexus. An encounter so stunning that it takes time to process; for all that, we intuit its significance, even if we don’t quite know why. The experience can be unsettling, and yet it’s compelling, too, reminding us that there’s more to life than the familiar paths and patterns we so easily follow.

By their very nature, we can’t know when these encounters will occur. This is why it’s so important to be open to new – and even challenging – possibilities. The idea that we’ll find fresh insight and invention every day is a sort of contradiction in terms. And while that might be comfortable for some, it’s not the route to growth – be it in business, in life, or simply in ourselves.   

In my case, the latest instance happened at the movies.

Banshees of Inisherin and Life’s Purpose

A few weeks ago, I went to see the magnificent (indeed, I’d go so far as to call it a masterpiece) Banshees of Inisherin. Directed by Martin McDonagh, the film has won a plethora of awards and is about as far from a Spielberg blockbuster as you could imagine. Yet, so impactful did I find it that I’ve replayed it in my mind ever since: its beauty, its layering, the dark comedy that compliments an unfolding as brutal as it is mesmeric. 

But the purpose of my writing here is not to critique the movie. You can find that elsewhere, and many of you may already have seen it. For those who haven’t, the narrative centers on the unraveling of a friendship in the background of the Irish Civil War. It explores themes of life’s purpose, despair, honesty, and humanity – and in truth, that’s a shortened list, for I could just as easily have chosen retribution, fate, or even mythology. And if all that sounds complex, then I guess it is.

Quality Comes at a Price 

But then, that’s the way with quality; it’s never fake or superficial, which means it invariably comes at a price. The cost isn’t necessarily financial; it might be cerebral or emotional, requiring tough choices or letting go of that which we yearn to hold onto. As I write, I’m aware these too are themes of the film…. But aren’t they also themes of life and love and (dare I say it) even leadership, in its broadest sense? 

Quality is Linked to Care

Robert Pirsig, who wrote Zen and The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, argued that quality was inextricable from care; that almost anything we do is better experienced – or managed – if we have a deeply felt concern for the issue at hand. And while I can’t prove that theory, I can sense its intuitive wisdom. Perhaps the genius of the Banshees of Inisherin is that as I watched — at times open-mouthed — I felt the agony of the characters and was so desperately sad at the inevitability of their fates – even that of the poor wee donkey!

There’s No Going Back

The ending, like this piece, is open to interpretation. But one message is clear: we can’t undo the past, just as I can’t un-watch the film. The truth is, some choices are so significant — and some events so seminal —that there’s no going back. That’s not a reason not to make them, though, because, unsettling though they are, they are also the ones that make life worth the candle.