Follow me on TwitterMy Tweets
- August 2016
- July 2016
- June 2016
- May 2016
- April 2016
- March 2016
- February 2016
- January 2016
- December 2015
- November 2015
- August 2015
- July 2015
- June 2015
- May 2015
- April 2015
- March 2015
- February 2015
- January 2015
- December 2014
- November 2014
- October 2014
- September 2014
- August 2014
- July 2014
- June 2014
- May 2014
- April 2014
- March 2014
- February 2014
- January 2014
- December 2013
- November 2013
- October 2013
- September 2013
- August 2013
- July 2013
- June 2013
- May 2013
- April 2013
- March 2013
- February 2013
- January 2013
- December 2012
- November 2012
- October 2012
- August 2012
- July 2012
- June 2012
- May 2012
- April 2012
- March 2012
- February 2012
- January 2012
Congratulations on the Triple triple, Mr. Bolt!
Shawn Parr 01.24.12
Get on a Southwest flight to anywhere, buy shoes from Zappos.com, pants from Nordstrom, groceries from Whole Foods, anything from Costco, a Starbucks espresso, or a Double-Double from In N’ Out, and you’ll get a taste of these brands’ vibrant cultures.
Culture is a balanced blend of human psychology, attitudes, actions, and beliefs that combined create either pleasure or pain, serious momentum or miserable stagnation. A strong culture flourishes with a clear set of values and norms that actively guide the way a company operates. Employees are actively and passionately engaged in the business, operating from a sense of confidence and empowerment rather than navigating their days through miserably extensive procedures and mind-numbing bureaucracy. Performance-oriented cultures possess statistically better financial growth, with high employee involvement, strong internal communication, and an acceptance of a healthy level of risk-taking in order to achieve new levels of innovation.
Misunderstood and mismanaged
Culture, like brand, is misunderstood and often discounted as a touchy-feely component of business that belongs to HR. It’s not intangible or fluffy, it’s not a vibe or the office décor. It’s one of the most important drivers that has to be set or adjusted to push long-term, sustainable success. It’s not good enough just to have an amazing product and a healthy bank balance. Long-term success is dependent on a culture that is nurtured and alive. Culture is the environment in which your strategy and your brand thrives or dies a slow death.
Think about it like a nurturing habitat for success. Culture cannot be manufactured. It has to be genuinely nurtured by everyone from the CEO down. Ignoring the health of your culture is like letting aquarium water get dirty.
If there’s any doubt about the value of investing time in culture, there are significant benefits that come from a vibrant and alive culture:
- Focus: Aligns the entire company towards achieving its vision, mission, and goals.
- Motivation: Builds higher employee motivation and loyalty.
- Connection: Builds team cohesiveness among the company’s various departments and divisions.
- Cohesion: Builds consistency and encourages coordination and control within the company.
- Spirit: Shapes employee behavior at work, enabling the organization to be more efficient and alive.
Think about the Marines: the few, the proud. They have a connected community that is second to none, and it comes from the early indoctrination of every member of the Corps and the clear communication of their purpose and value system. It is completely clear that they are privileged to be joining an elite community that is committed to improvising, adapting, and overcoming in the face of any adversity. The culture is so strong that it glues the community together and engenders a sense of pride that makes them unparalleled. The culture is what each Marine relies on in battle and in preparation. It is an amazing example of a living culture that drives pride and performance. It is important to step back and ask whether the purpose of your organization is clear and whether you have a compelling value system that is easy to understand. Mobilizing and energizing a culture is predicated on the organization clearly understanding the vision, mission, values, and goals. It’s leadership’s responsibility to involve the entire organization, informing and inspiring them to live out the purpose the organization in the construct of the values.
Vibrant and healthy
Do you run into your culture every day? Does it inspire you, or smack you in the face and get in your way, slowing and wearing you down? Is it overpowering or does it inspire you to overcome challenges? It’s important to understand what is driving your culture. Is it power and ego that people react to, and try to gain power, or a culture of encouragement and empowerment? Is it driven from top-down directives, or cross-department collaboration? To get a taste of your culture, all you have to do is sit in an executive meeting, the cafe or the lunch room, listen to the conversations, look at the way decisions are made and the way departments cooperate. Take time out and get a good read on the health of your culture.
Culture fuels brand
A vibrant culture provides a cooperative and collaborative environment for a brand to thrive in. Your brand is the single most important asset to differentiate you consistently over time, and it needs to be nurtured, evolved, and invigorated by the people entrusted to keep it true and alive. Without a functional and relevant culture, the money invested in research and development, product differentiation, marketing, and human resources is never maximized and often wasted because it’s not fueled by a sustaining and functional culture.
Look at Zappos, one of the fastest companies to reach $1 billion in recent years, fueled by an electric and eclectic culture, one that’s inclusionary, encouraging, and empowering. It’s well-documented, celebrated, and shared willingly with anyone who wants to learn from it. Compare that to American Apparel, the controversial and prolific fashion retailer with a well-documented and highly dysfunctional culture. Zappos is thriving and on its way to $2 billion, while American Apparel is mired in bankruptcy and controversy. Both companies are living out their missions—one is to create happiness, and the other is based on self-centered perversity. Authenticity and values always win.
Uncommon sense for a courageous and vibrant culture
It’s easy to look at companies like Stonyfield Farms, Zappos, Google, Virgin, Whole Foods, or Southwest Airlines and admire them for their passionate, engaged, and active cultures that are on display for the world to see. Building a strong culture takes hard work and true commitment and, while not something you can tick off in boxes, here are some very basic building blocks to consider:
- Dynamic and engaged leadership
A vibrant culture is organic and evolving. It is fueled and inspired by leadership that is actively involved and informed about the realities of the business. They genuinely care about the company’s role in the world and are passionately engaged. They are great communicators and motivators who set out a clearly communicated vision, mission, values, and goals and create an environment for them to come alive.
- Living values
It’s one thing to have beliefs and values spelled out in a frame in the conference room. It’s another thing to have genuine and memorable beliefs that are directional, alive and modeled throughout the organization daily. It’s important that departments and individuals are motivated and measured against the way they model the values. And, if you want a values-driven culture, hire people using the values as a filter. If you want your company to embody the culture, empower people and ensure every department understands what’s expected. Don’t just list your company’s values in PowerPoints; bring them to life in people, products, spaces, at events, and in communication.
- Responsibility and accountability
Strong cultures empower their people, they recognize their talents, and give them a very clear role with responsibilities they’re accountable for. It’s amazing how basic this is, but how absent the principle is in many businesses.
- Celebrate success and failure
Most companies that run at speed often forget to celebrate their victories both big and small, and they rarely have time or the humility to acknowledge and learn from their failures. Celebrate both your victories and failures in your own unique way, but share them and share them often.
______________________________________________________________________________Shawn Parr is the The Guvner & CEO of Bulldog Drummond, an innovation and design consultancy headquartered in San Diego whose clients and partners have included Starbucks, Diageo, Jack in the Box, Adidas, MTV, Nestle, Pinkberry, American Eagle Outfitters, IDEO, Virgin, Disney, Nike, Mattel, Heineken, Annie’s Homegrown, The Michael J Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, CleanWell, The Honest Kitchen and World Vision. Follow the conversation at @BULLDOGDRUMMOND.
[Image: Flickr user Jeremy Brooks]
Philippians 4:8 King James Version (KJV)
8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
by Seth Godin
…it only takes a few minutes. Because it’s not a breakthrough.
Breakthroughs are slow because you don’t know how to do it…
Re-creation is fast, because you already know how.
The art of the breakthrough is the practice of figuring out all the ways to not do it on your way to an insight.
Don’t curse the dead ends and the failures. They’re the key element of the work you’re doing.
We find our way by getting lost. Anything other than that is called reading a map.
Posted by Orrin Woodward on July 13, 2016
There is nothing more important, its proper implementation determining the destiny of nations, companies, and families, than the creation of culture. Culture, the system of beliefs, values, and customs a community follows, cannot be seen, but it permeates every behavior and creates every norm within the company*. Interestingly, despite practically every leader expressing the need for the proper culture to create the proper results, few seem to make it a matter of conscious development. This, I believe, is one of the biggest leadership mistakes being made in the marketplace.
As such, every community must get intentional about culture or suffer the consequences. Interestingly, just over a year ago, in a conversation with Chris Brady, he boiled down influence within a company to the three R’s to influence – require it, recognize it, or reward it. Although we weren’t specifically talking culture at the time, it didn’t take long for me to realize Brady had summed up the different methods to create culture within a community. Since that day, I have thought extensively on how to create a culture that requires, recognizes, and rewards the right behaviors.
Needless to say, this is much more difficult to do than it sounds, for most companies suffer from cognitive dissonance – a malady where the organization promotes one thing while rewarding another. In consequence, the biggest failure-mode for most communities involves the recognition and rewards not being in alignment with the long-term vision. Cognitive dissonance, not surprisingly, creates a cultural inertia that, left to itself, will divide the community and blur the vision. Dissonance, in a word, destroys unity and growth.
Accordingly, a great leader must identify what is the purpose and vision of the community; then, he must develop the culture around requiring, recognizing, and rewarding the proper behaviors to accomplish it. Moreover, if the leader realizes the recognition and rewards currently instituted will not achieve the stated purpose and vision, he must have the courage to make the needed adjustments. In fact, this is what makes the leader the leader, namely, the courage to create the culture to accomplish the community’s purpose. Indeed, any leader unwilling to do this, is not truly a leader, for he merely follows the existing cultural current rather than create the correct one.
Leaders are responsible for eliminating any cognitive dissonance in the culture to ensure the actions of the organization move it towards its stated purpose and vision. After all, nothing proves the leader’s worth so much as his/her ability to move the cultural current in the proper direction. It doesn’t matter if it is easy; it doesn’t matter if it is convenient; it doesn’t even matter if its popular, but what does matters is whether the community can accomplish its stated purpose with the current culture. If there is cognitive dissonance, then the culture must change.
When an organization is suffering in the throes of cognitive dissonance, the leader must charge to the front lines and resist the current cultural current, converting the current from dissonance to resonance around the professed purpose. When the cultural current is flowing smoothly, the rewards and recognition align and people win personally when the organization wins corporately.
Proper leadership, in sum, creates the culture and the culture creates the results.
What is the purpose for your organization*? What is the culture of your organization? Is the culture’s results aligned with the purpose of the organization? If it is, then start the clock to the community’s victory celebration. If it isn’t, however, then start the clock and see how long it takes the leaders to get to the front and lead. Harry Truman was right:
the buck does truly stop with the leader.
* ‘Organization‘, actually; because the same dynamics effect corporations, small businesses & faith-based orgs & churches similarly. People tend to act like people wherever they are.