Culture first… all the other stuff after that!
“Until I came to IBM, I probably would have told you that culture was just one among several important elements in any organization’s makeup and success – along with vision, strategy, marketing, financials, and the like… I came to see, in my time at IBM, that culture isn’t just one aspect of the game, it is the game. In the end, an organization is nothing more than the collective capacity of its people to create value.” - Louis V. Gerstner, JR – former CEO of IBM
Most organizations dealing with performance issues miss this point. Traditional logic dictates performance improvement is tied to any or all of these factors:
Don’t get me wrong, these things are important, but they are not as important as culture.
It is powerful, and like your brand, you’re going to have one whether you like it or not! When culture is right, the following are alive and well in an organization:
Think about it. When employees are happy, growing, and sticking around, more tasks are accomplished. When more things are accomplished, productivity improves!
“Maybe the most important lesson is to realize that culture is the ultimate competitive advantage. We get focused on so many things like improving products and processes, but products can be reverse engineered; a strong culture, on the other hand, is very difficult to create, and nearly impossible to reverse engineer. So, to me…cultures are truly the ultimate competitive advantage. It’s about how you create a remarkable culture, a place where: People believe the best IN each other, so they want the best FOR each other and expect the best FROM each other.”
- David Salyers Chick-fil-A
The Culture Litmus Test
Here’s a quick way to find out if your company culture is at the level of world-class organizations. Ask several people in your organization from different departments to participate. Ask each person to take out a piece of paper and answer the following questions?
- What’s your organization's reason for being?
- What are your organization's core values?
Go around the room and ask each person to share their answers. Are they the same? Are the answers clear and concise? Are you all on the same page? If so, congratulations! If not, perhaps you have some work to do related to your company culture.