Blog 5 | The Marathon Way | Business Culture | September 2016

Roadmap to a High Performing, Growing Business

Culture is an ongoing, powerful reality in life. It is something that can either unite or divide.Some leadership and management experts rank the importance of culture above strategy.

In 2014, Miriam Webster named “culture” the word of the year due to the number of web-searches for terms like “organisational culture,” “culture of transparency,” “customer culture,” and even, “celebrity culture.”

How do we define and understand culture?

Anthropologist E.B. Tylor describes culture as “that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, custom and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society.”

Here at Marathon, we suggest that you view your own business culture as a combination of physical, intellectual, emotional and spiritual themes. All these elements must work together to create a culture of both tangible and intangible forces in action.Marathon believes that a healthy business culture is a strong, even unique force in its own right, that often holds the key to a sustainable and successful business.


Marathon Foundation 1.4: Business Culture

How do you develop a healthy business culture?

The building blocks of an organisation’s culture are the agreed Artefacts, Principles and Values that define “the way we do business around here”. We call it the “APV framework”. It is the footsteps of leadership and creates the essential common ground that unites internal stakeholders, i.e. the staff and shareholders.

A shared and valued culture provides the “glue” for your business, a force that can improves synergy, integration, alignment and co-ordination. It is a natural antidote to silo thinking and behaviour. Culture differentiates your business from your competitors. In our experience it can be your competitive edge. It is therefore essential to craft, strengthen and celebrate it.

To establish and maintain a healthy, competitive business culture, you have to develop an understanding of the importance of the “APV framework”.


Here is how it works:
  • The physical elements of your culture are the artefacts, i.e. the “look and feel” of your infrastructure, corporate identity (your logo and visual communication) and very importantly, the general appearance and composition of staff at every level of work.
  • The intellectual dynamics live in your principles of doing business: What are the fundamental beliefs, world-views and business objectives of your leadership that determine how you take and implement business decisions?
  • The emotional and spiritual drivers of the leadership will embed a set of core values to guide the behaviour of the majority of your staff. This determines the expected standards (code of conduct and operating procedures) to ensure consistent, appropriate, professional and relevant behaviour across all spheres of business.


If you want to build a long-term healthy culture that offers your business a competitive edge, you need to agree, and then implement an appropriate and dynamic APV framework for your business: one that the various levels of work in the business and external stakeholders, especially clients, can easily relate to.


Continue working at your culture

Healthy relationships are much more important than just maintaining transactional interactions between people! Very few key relationships will survive, let alone flourish, without dedicated parties that are also committed to each other’s well-being and benefit.If we accept the principle that culture is the gelling force that guides behaviour and relationships within your bigger business environment, we have to remain committed to continuously live, affirm and improve that business culture.

There are a number of ways in which leaders can effectively nurture culture. You have to find your own pace and rhythm in protecting and growing your cultural competitiveness.

If you are interested to design and build a healthy, high performing culture, please do not hesitate to contact us.


Next month:

In our next blog we will explore the second Marathon business growth Foundation, i.e. Strategy and Business Model innovation.Let’s go…and let’s build high performing, growing businesses with healthy cultures.

For Enquiries

Marius Botha | +27 912 2900

Meaning before money

We believe that making meaning comes before making money. Since founding Marathon, we have therefore invested our time in under-resourced organisational projects where our skills make a meaningful difference. Projects where we are involved include:







For more information about our community projects, please contact us.