How do you define the top?

Culture Change: It Starts at the Top!

How do you define the top?

Is it the Board? Or the executive team?  

What role does - or should - a board and the executive team play in the shaping of your organisational culture?

The Top is the Chairman of the Board

The chairman's role is to guide the entire Board and the Executive Team to proactively create + nurture the culture of the organisation.

This is not only good for business it is necessary to discharge their duties according to law incl. the criminal code.

Commonwealth Criminal Code: Culture of Compliance …

The following is an extract from a speech  "The Culture of Compliance - A Judicial Perspective" (FCA) [2003] FedJSchol 16 by Justice RS French of the Federal Court of Australia on a companies responsibilities under the Commonwealth Criminal Code with regard  to creating & maintaining a "compliant culture".

Corporate Culture of Compliance – The Definitions
The term ‘corporate culture’ also appears and is defined in a major Commonwealth statute.
As of 15 December 2001, the provisions of the Commonwealth Criminal Code relating to corporate criminal responsibility apply to all federal offences save for those offences created under Acts which retain specific regimes of corporate responsibility.
Where intention, knowledge or recklessness is a necessary element of an offence that state of mind will be attributed to a body corporate that expressly, tacitly or impliedly authorised or permitted the commission of the offence.
The Code provides in Pt 12.3 the means by which such an authorisation or permission may be established.
These include:
‘(c) Proving that a corporate culture existed within the body corporate that directed, encouraged, tolerated or led to non-compliance with the relevant provision.’ – This may perhaps be referred to as a culture of non-compliance.
‘(d) Proving that the body corporate failed to create and maintain a corporate culture that required compliance with the relevant provision.’
- This may be referred to as the non-existence of a culture of compliance.
The term ‘corporate culture’ is defined in s 12.3(6) of the Code thus:
‘Corporate culture’ means an attitude, policy, rule, course of conduct or practice existing within the body corporate generally or in the part of the body corporate in which the relevant activities take place.
In determining whether the relevant corporate culture of non-compliance existed or whether no corporate culture of compliance exists, a court may have regard to:
(a) whether authority to commit an offence of the same or a similar character has been given by a high managerial agent of the body corporate; and
(b) whether the employee, agent or officer of the body corporate who committed the offence believed on reasonable grounds or entertained a reasonable expectation, that a high managerial agent of the body corporate would have authorised or permitted the commission of the offence.

The Importance of Corporate Culture

Extracted from a speech by Greg Medcraft, Chairman, Australian Securities and Investments Commission

Gilbert + Tobin Board Luncheon (Melbourne, Australia) 15 June 2017

So, what is culture?
Culture is a set of shared values and assumptions within an organisation.
It reflects the underlying ‘mindset of an organisation’, the ‘unwritten rules’ for how things really work.  
It works silently in the background to direct how an organisation and its staff think, make decisions and actually behave.
Andrew Bailey, Chief Executive at the UK Financial Conduct Authority recently commented that culture was ‘everywhere and nowhere’.
He explained that this reference was meant to convey that almost everything that goes on in an institution affects its culture, but there is no distinctive external ‘thing’ called culture that acts as an input to institutional behaviour. And why is culture so critical in this landscape?
Word-of-mouth and reviews (i.e. the crowd) have become increasingly influential in consumer decision-making.
Personal recommendations have been effective in driving attitudes towards a brand and purchasing behaviour, but social media has now magnified and intensified the power of these recommendations. The power of consumer reviews and positive word-of-mouth can help build and maintain trust in a company’s brand.
On the flip side, social media and the 24-hour news cycle mean that companies are increasingly held to account for any perception of poor behaviour. If they are not behaving in the right way, the crowd will let them know, if not the headlines – often with damaging effects on their brand and reputation.
Creating a sustainable business today is not only about the quality of the product or service that is delivered.
It is also about the quality of a firm’s conduct, both internally and externally.
If the culture and values of a business are not aligned with customer outcomes, it is easy to see how a trust deficit will emerge, and this will impact its long-term sustainability.


This FAQ was written by James D. Ford GAICD | Principal Solicitor, Blue Ocean Law Group℠.

What our Blue Ocean Law Group's Values?

Using our Values to Shape our Culture

Being a start-up, Blue Ocean Law Group's culture is still evolving.

Our culture is being shaped by our values and what we actually do versus what is supposed to happen!

Please find our current list of values (not in any particular order of importance) below:

Blue Cow!

"Every day, clients are faced with a lot of boring stuff - a lot of brown cows - but you can bet they won't forget a Purple Cow!

Our goal is to be truly remarkable in everything we do."

Delivering a Remarkable Client Experience

In line with our goal of being truly remarkable, in everything we do.
Our way of gauging our level of success in achieving our goal is to have our client's "remark positively" about their interactions with us + highly recommending our services to others.

Sustainability ➲ Paperless Law Firm

Unless we are forced to use paper by law (for eg., some Courts require hard copy filings) our standard approach is to continue our efforts to run as close as possible to being a 100% paperless law firm.

Blue Ocean Leadership

"We never cease to be amazed by the talent and energy we see in the organisations we study.
Sadly, we are equally amazed by how much of it is squandered by poor leadership.
Blue Ocean Leadership can help put an end to that."


“Our law firm’s products + services are for the large (85%) untapped market of non-clients who do not currently seek legal advice or support + currently believe lawyers are to be or can be avoided.
We will focus on individuals + businesses who want to take care of their own legal affairs for straight-forward legal matters (whenever practical).
Our legal team [with support from our network of collaborating law firms] will provide support as and when required when matters become complex or are high-value/risk.

Our Simple Marketing Promise

The template used to develop our Simple Marketing Promise was obtained from the book “This is Marketing” by Seth Godin's Akimbo Workshops.

“We offer memberships to individuals + businesses (who find our subscription pricing of less than the cost of a cup of coffee circa $3.50 per day a compelling proposition) inviting them to join us on a lifetime journey where we guide + empower them using innovative + proactive solutions to safely navigate hidden ice-bergs in life + business:
1️⃣ By taking care of their own legal affairs for straight-forward legal matters (whenever practical); and
2️⃣ Offering assistance from our legal team [supported by our network of collaborating law firms] as and when required for their complex or high-value/risk matters.
We promise that engaging with our free online 24/7 resources + [Self-Service] legal documents portal will help you get instant tailored legal documents (all Australian states + territories are covered) to serve your full range of personal + business needs using Embedded Lawyer-Logic™ designed by some of the best lawyers in their respective fields of practice.”

⭐️ Please note that our Bundled Member Subscriptions are currently only available for Australia. We are in the process of 'Charting New Markets' in New Zealand & California.

Attention to Detail

It may only be a minor typo … yet it can cause a major loss of confidence in the written content as well as the author and the organisation they represent.

Tips: If the matter is not urgent + you are not in a position to have someone else review:

✅ It is highly recommended to use software like Grammarly;

✅ Wait a few hours or even better “sleep on it” and take a fresh look the next day; and

✅ Learning about typography and using it to polish the work further is often overlooked by lawyers and other professionals.


Don’t wait for permission … get started with what you can do within your existing “approved” bailiwick.

Cognitive Diversity

Difference of opinion is highly valued and necessary to avoid “Group-think”!

Value-Innovation” Focused

You will need to research this concept within Blue Ocean Strategy®.

The Principles of Fair Process: Engagement, Explanation, and Expectation clarity

We cannot overstate the power of these principles.

Their impact has been written about extensively on the quality of execution for over 20 years.

See, for example, our article “Fair Process: Managing in the Knowledge Economy,” HBR July–August 1997.

See also this summary.


Within + across traditional boundaries.


We need to conduct ourselves in such a way that we are un - hack -  a -  bull!

See details below under Risk Management, Preventable Risks.

Step 1: Free Cybersecurity Awareness Training


A system in which advancement is based on individual ability or achievement.


Nothing is static; look to challenge our approach + assumptions.

Have Fun

Professionalism + fun are not mutually exclusive concepts.


Follow your interest and see where it leads.  

Not everything you do needs to be a billable hour.  

We schedule unproductive time devoted to exploring!


Clients don’t just have legal needs they have corporate governance (incl. strategy + ongoing risk management) + “business as usual” needs.

Launch First

Don’t wait until your product or service is perfect before launching.

Follow the LEAN Start-up approach.

Fight the good fight

Look for opportunities to put our skills as lawyers to fair use on a “pro-bono” basis or lobbying for law reform (if appropriate).


This FAQ was written by James D. Ford GAICD | Principal Solicitor, Blue Ocean Law Group℠.

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