Culture doesn’t have to be complicated

When people first get exposed to our approach to creating and driving culture intentionally, they’re often struck by how simple it is. “It just makes sense,” they frequently say, as if that should be a surprise. And yet, when things are simple, we sometimes fall into the trap of thinking there must be something missing because it isn’t overly complex. I recently came across this blog post, written by Bruce Terkel, and I thought it was really insightful. In it, Terkel points out that when things are simple, they help us to see issues more clearly because we don’t get …

Sustaining your culture for years, not months.

Ever wonder why it’s so hard to stick with our plans, even with the best of intentions? Ever roll out an important initiative in your organization, determined to make it last, only to have it fall by the wayside, as you got busy on something else or distracted by a new problem or opportunity? Well join the club. It happens to nearly all of us and in nearly all organizations.   And the cost of these lapses is not just in the failed initiative. In fact, it’s bigger than that. When we repeatedly fail to sustain our efforts, we teach our …

Where do cultures come from?

Here’s a simple, but interesting observation: Every company has a distinct culture. In fact, every group of people that comes together regularly has a culture. This is as true for your company as it is for a group of golfing buddies or a Girl Scout troop or an athletic team. There’s an unwritten set of rules about how the group works – what topics are off limits, what it’s OK to joke about, how things get done, etc. It’s simply not possible for there not to be a culture. Strong personalities dictate But did you ever stop to wonder where …

The competitive edge in a commoditized world

Have you noticed that it’s harder than it’s ever been to truly differentiate yourself? That whatever you claim it is that makes you so different, your competitors also say the same thing about themselves? That to your prospects, as well as your current customers, you often look pretty much like everyone else? Yeah, we notice that too. And when customers can’t figure out what makes anyone different, they buy strictly on price, and none of us want to be in that kind of market! So how is that some companies manage to stand out year after year in industries that …

Can you measure culture?

I’m sometimes asked by CEOs, “How can we measure the effect of our work on our culture?” Well, the short answer is that you can’t, but the longer answer is that there are definitely things we can measure, and should be measuring, that are important leading indicators of success. Let me explain further.  You can’t isolate the variables The reason I say that you can’t directly measure the impact of your work on culture is that you just can’t isolate the variables. If your sales or profits increased by 18% last year, was that due to the work you did …

Is Articulating And Communicating Your Values Enough?

I was talking to a CEO recently and he shared with me his decision to make articulating and communicating his values a key strategic initiative for his company for 2015. But when I asked him what he thought this would accomplish, he became silent. It certainly sounded like an admirable thing to do and many companies go down this path, making a big production of their values statements, putting them on their website, holding company-wide meetings, and maybe even featuring them in the company newsletter. And yet, at the end of the day, does communicating your values really impact your …

Is Employee Engagement Enough?

There’s a lot of talk these days about employee engagement. And for good reason. When you look at the statistics showing the percentage of American workers who are either not fully engaged or are actively disengaged, it’s pretty startling. This short video tells the story pretty effectively. But here’s an even bigger question: Is getting your employees engaged enough? I’m often asked about this, and more specifically, how the Fundamentals system relates to employee engagement. Let me try to answer those questions here. Unlocking discretionary effort Employee engagement is about capturing the hearts and minds of your people. It’s about …

Pizza or Performance?

Many leaders I meet will tell me that they have good cultures. They’re justifiably proud of their companies, their people, and the environment in which those people work. But when I press a little harder and ask what they mean by a “good” culture, I hear things like this: Our people get along Our people are engaged Our people like coming to work And when I ask their people what makes it a “good” culture, they add things like: I feel appreciated I enjoy the people I work with We have pizza every Friday We can wear jeans We have …

Who cares what you believe?

Here’s something I’ve noticed a lot lately: Much of the literature around organizational culture has a heavy emphasis on the importance of articulating the values and beliefs that define a company’s culture. The thinking is that if you can clearly articulate the core principles that are truly central to who you are, then you can drive greater organizational alignment. It sounds pretty smart, but does it really work? I’m not so sure.  What’s the impact? I have to admit that I’m a bit of a contrarian on this point. To be clear, there’s nothing wrong, and in fact, there’s a …