Organizational Culture Specialist — website of Helen Russ

Helen is currently working on a PhD looking at the relationship between memes, (or the corporate being), and organizational culture. Below is the theoretical framework that underpins the research.

Right now, Helen is looking for ORGANIZATIONS TO PARTICIPATE in the research. If you would like more practical detail, see the research process.




A MEME OR CORPORATE PERSONALITY is the something more that is created when a group of people come together for a joint purpose. Swarm intelligence, crowd behaviour, collective intelligence are all examples of this phenomena in different settings. By nature the corporate personality or meme is more stable example, in that it has greater continuity through time.

ORGANIZATIONAL CULTURE by contrast, is a collection of behaviours, standard procedures, policies, myths and stories. Culture is a web of tacit understandings (Aiman-Smith 2004), as such it is a collection of structures that are flavored in a similar manner.

THE MEME OR CORPORATE MIND EXISTS at the confluence of:

  • winds or currents that move through the collective mind (these can be experienced as global trends);
  • and the combined universal consciousness of people united in a joint purpose. Bodeau calls them a meta-being , referring to the fact that they are at a meta level, or a level less emanated than the physical.
THEY FORM with any gathering of people united in a join purpose. In Unmasking the Powers, Walter Wink describes them as the sum total of all the intentions, directed will, and states of consciousness that aggregate to form the interior spirit behind the visible façade of an organisation (1986 p.88). In the Lucifer Principle, Howard Bloom calls them a superorganism, comparing organizational employees to cells in a organism. We are, instead, disposable parts of being much larger than ourselves. All members of a of your organisation, are psychically included.

THE TERM MEME was coined in 1976 by Richard Dawkins in The Selfish Gene. He suggests that there is a unit of cultural transmission (p.192), that replicates, in a similar way to genes. Dawkins describes them as tunes, ideas, catchphrases, clothes, fashion, ways of making pots or building arches (p.192). Similar to a gene in genetics, a meme is a unit, in the mind, that replicates, leaping from brain to brain (p.192) by a process of imitation. An organisation is a collection of mini memes working on concert for which Dawkins uses the term meme complex (p.195).

WHATS DRIVING ORGANIZATIONAL CULTURE: In Unmasking the Powers, Walter Wink suggests that when people gather there are two congregations, the manifest group represented by the persona or mask we show each other and the latent group, consisting of the sum total of the shadow (p.78). Wink suggests that each person brings with him or her, the latent anger, prejudice, fear, anxiety, feelings of rejection, and instinctual urges each of us tries to keep hidden from the others (p.78). The meme is the sum total of what is behind the façade, it is the spirit of the organisation. It gathers up into a single whole all the aspirations and grudges, hopes and vendettas, fidelity and unfaithfulness of a given community (Wink 1986, p.72). It has its own agenda, it is subject to its own laws, it has a different relationship to time and it is not bound by the will of any individual, moral or legal code. This structure (singular) is what shapes organizational culture (a collection of structures).

AFFECTED BY GLOBAL TRENDS; In the same way as the spirit of a football stadium is affected by the successes and failures of the teams who play on its fields, the corporate meme is affected by the global or astral winds that move through it. The wave of fear, success, paranoia or gratitude can alter the flavor of consciousness held within the meme. This flavor of consciousness is what shapes thought processes and therefore actions of those who interact with it. As forces around a corporate being change, so does its stability and sutainbility. To remain masterful, a corporate being needs to be constantly reading the meme landscape.

PRESENCED the corporate intelligence is consciously driven by the collective will of the people. In a presenced meme, employees are consciously aware of the impact of their action and thoughts on the meme. They gradually form a conscious relationship with the meme. Unpresenced it can become a beast, with its own will, agenda and beliefs.

MEME MAPPING uses specific experiential techniques to observe the operation of the meme within the organisation or within the broader landscape. The aim is to explore the meme, what it desires, the flavour of consciousness it exhibits, its negative wantings and its calling. There will be some people within your organisation who are already aware of the meme. The process allows that knowledge to become overt. It becomes something understood within the organisation which allows people to monitor and therefore manage it.

BENEFITS; Many organizations begin with an aultruistic mission and given time, become something very different from the original impulse. The Google founding principle, Don t be Evil is clearly stated in the preface to the Google Investor Relations, Code of Conduct. Googles mission is to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful. Gaining access to web behaviour data across the globe has given Google unforeseen powers which could not have been anticipated when Google began. Google is now at a critical juncture; how do they manage this power ethically, without being evil?

Working with the corporate personality becomes powerful by continued practice of a variety of techniques over time. It begins with a process of organizational evaluation or story telling.

If you'd like more information about how your organization can participate in the research, there are details of the research process outlined.