Sunday, March 23, 2008

thoughts: on (winning) culture

Brian Anderson asked:

Some leadership teams attempt to create culture by acting as wordsmiths, spending untold hours carefully crafting vision, mission and values statements. That's unfortunate, because in the end culture is not created by words plastered on the wall or carried around on laminated cards, but rather culture is defined by actions on the ground.

A winning company culture is simple and emphasizes three areas: serving the customer, growing the business, and developing employees. A losing culture is confusing and complex, places customer needs behind those of the company, and emphasizes personal gain over team achievement. Your thoughts?

Why, yes, I do have thoughts:

A winning culture is aligned, motivated, trusting and open.

A winning culture *believes* in the destination and the journey.

A winning culture creates its own energy.

A winning culture welcomes new members.

A winning culture breathes, adapts, forgives, learns.

A winning culture knows deep down that its very existence is a major competitive differentiator, and that sustaining that differentiator takes energy.

A winning culture is focused on solving meaningful problems with authentic solutions.

Ultimately customer-focus flows from problem-focus; it's more sustainable to acculturate around the craft than it is to do so around the consumer of the craft, as consumers come and go as their problem foci change.

This is not to say you don't take care of your customers - but the passion that animates a culture is better focused on solving the problem first.

Culture animates focus the same way that the soup animates the noodles in ramen.  OK, maybe not the same way.  

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