Business Culture of Proactivity vs. Reactivity

Before we get into differentiating between a business culture of proactivity vs. reactivity, we need to first give a brief explanation of what is business culture.

What is “Business Culture?”

Business Culture of Proactivity vs. Reactivity

Business culture is the style, approach, or methods of daily operations within a particular company. This involves key components like customer relations, overall planning and goal-setting, internal relationships like frequency, proximity, and clarity of direct communication, for example.

What is Reactivity?

Reactivity in this article is referring to the specific and habitual approach management uses to deal with problems and challenges. This approach is basically summed up as, “Let’s deal with problems when they arise and try to prevent them in the future.”

What is Proactivity?

Business Culture of Proactivity vs. Reactivity

Proactivity in this article is also referring to a specific and habitual approach management uses to handle challenges and problems. This difference between this approach and the reactive approach is that proactivity is a forward-looking approach. It anticipates future problems and challenges before they arise and sets up an initial plan that will work around these issues or contingency plans that will take effect if specific problems should come up.  Proactivity also seeks to ask key questions to identify larger issues, outline their current and future applications, and create present plans to deal with these upcoming challenges effectively.

Personal Examples

  • In my local region a new grocery store opened up that has a emphasis on healthy foods and excellent customer service.  Previous to the appearance of this new store, the majority of the grocery stores in our region continued to operate with a mundane and mediocre approach year after year. After decades of the same approach, a new company moved in from up north who did not hesitate to invest in their customers and took away a significant amount of their business. Because the new grocery store had a proactive approach, they grew from a small business to a large one as they invested back in the business in thoughtful ways.
Business Culture of Proactivity vs. Reactivity
  • A local glass company that has never had any problems hiring employees is now challenged in finding long-term help. Not only are their present employees handing in resignations, but they have had a difficult time keeping new employees lately.  There could be many reasons for this present challenge. Since the economy is doing so well, employers everywhere are challenged with hiring. This challenge also points to another problem which is, “What makes the difference between those who are keeping employees and those who are not keeping employees?” I would suggest that a significant part of this difference is a proactive company culture that gradually invests in their employees so that they can do their jobs with ease and effectiveness. 


A significant part of business culture is reactivity vs. proactivity. A reactive business culture takes a “deal as we go” approach; a proactive business approach is forward looking and anticipates challenges by planning for them ahead of time as well as searching out key issues to the problem. A proactive business approach is always preferred if possible because investing gradually in stakeholders pays off in the long run. 

Your Takeaway

If you are a business owner, is your company culture more reactive or proactive? What are some specific challenges and/or problems that exist or could come up, what are the key issues, and what are some contingency plans or immediate solutions to employ?  In what specific areas can the business culture improve in proactivity vs. reactivity? 

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