CEOs Become 'Undercover Bosses' with Cultural Audits

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CEOs who want to go undercover and experience what it's really like to work at their companies don't have to pitch CBS producers for a spot on TV's Undercover Boss. They can conduct cultural audits through Perfect 10 Corporate Cultures of Fairfield, Ohio to determine areas of commendation and concern in their corporate cultures.

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Corporate culture is the silent partner in your company’s organization.

CEOs who want to go undercover and experience what it's really like to work at their companies don't have to pitch CBS producers for a spot on TV's Undercover Boss.

Perfect 10 Corporate Cultures, a business consultancy in Fairfield, Ohio, performs corporate "cultural audits" to help management see areas of commendation and concern in their corporate cultures.

"Corporate culture is the silent partner in your company’s organization,” says Lynne Ruhl, founder, president and CEO of Perfect 10 Corporate Cultures. “Whether you actively promote a specific culture, or allow one to establish by default, the effect a corporate culture has on a company’s bottom line is phenomenal.”

Industry research bears her out. Business school professors from the University of Minnesota, London Business School, University of Cambridge, and the University of Southern California collaborated in 2009 on research to identify key drivers of successful innovation in successful companies. They looked at 759 businesses across 17 countries and found that company culture is the single biggest factor in the success of these companies.

Unfortunately, says Ruhl, often management is unaware of the true corporate culture within an organization unless he or she goes "undercover."

"A hard reality is that leaders will never be able to fully penetrate their organizations to identify all the key cultural issues," says Ruhl. "Employees aren't always able to recognize and articulate issues, and are sometimes unwilling to share their views. Fortunately we have discovery methods that will bring hidden issues to light."

Perfect 10 generates quantitative and qualitative employee perspectives through online surveys and personal interviews with either all or a percentage of employees. The consultancy addresses 14 indicators that most highly impact culture and provides insights that guide the evaluation and cultural change process.

"The second reality about corporate culture is the assumption that culture flows from things like systems, work processes, decision-making models, structure, and similar organizational elements," says Ruhl. "Although these tend to support the existing culture, the core issue of intentionally designing a productive culture is much more deeply rooted."

Ruhl says corporate culture results from foundational, interpersonal relationships-- how people interact with each other. "To truly address culture, we must first get a clear understanding of what it is really like to work at the organization from all vantage points," says Ruhl. "Once we have a clear picture of the culture that currently exists, we can begin making the necessary adjustments to intentionally create the kind of culture that will enable the company to excel. This is the water in which leaders, employees and systems swim."

Ruhl tells of one client CEO of an Ohio financial institution who was planning to make significant changes in some company policies and procedures. "Before making any changes, he wanted an accurate understanding of the employee's opinions about the company culture," she says. "He was shocked to learn that employees were even happier and more engaged and loyal than he even knew-- because of some of the very things he had planned to change. Needless to say, he was extremely relieved to have that information to guide his decision making."

Ruhl is probably best known nationally for the 18 years she spent training, mentoring and coaching athletes and staff at Cincinnati Gymnastics Academy in relationship and quality-of-life skills. One of her roles was executive coach for Cincinnati Gymnastics Academy owner and two-time Olympic coach Mary Lee Tracy.

She worked on mental training with some of the finest athletes in gymnastics, including 1996 Olympic Gold Medalists Amanda Borden, Jaycie Phelps and three-time World Champion and 1992 Olympian Kim Zmeskal.

"It's ironic that leaders are responsible for creating and managing corporate culture," says Ruhl, "yet they cannot create and manage a culture until they identify it accurately. Companies that do not manage corporate culture will find that culture manages them."

For more information, contact Ruhl at, or call (513) 874-4220.


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Lynne Ruhl
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