At Denison Consulting we are in the Culture business, and so you might expect that we would answer with an unequivocal YES to the question of whether or not you need a Chief Culture Officer. After all, our 20+ years of research have shown quite clearly that culture has a significant impact on company performance. It impacts financial performance, innovation, quality and many other key business indicators. It deserves the utmost attention.

Some argue that it is the CEO’s job to be the “keeper of the culture.”  Others see it as a role that is best managed within HR. Still others say that culture is about the collective way in which people work together, and it cannot be owned by any one person. Yet recently, we have seen the emergence of roles and titles that assign specific responsibility to a senior executive in the form of Chief People & Culture Officer, Culture Evangelist, or Corporate Storyteller. We’ve even come across a “Quarterback of Culture!”  So who is right?

We believe that all are right, though for different reasons.  Ultimately, the culture of an organization is the collective responsibility of employees at every level and in in every role. One would never suggest that a President or Prime Minister of a country owns or even dictates the culture of the people they lead. The goal is always mass ownership, because ultimately it is the collective behavior and action that makes the culture. There are many successful companies we engage with every day