Keeping It Fresh

In my last blog post, I talked about incorporating your Fundamental of the Week into rituals that are already established in your company as an easier way to embed the Fundamentals into your routines. In this post, I’ll offer another suggestion for making your rituals more effective. Here’s a question I get often: “How do we keep our rituals from becoming stale, tired, and meaningless?” The first time I heard this question, the person gave me the example of saying their prayers before bed every night as a child. They admitted that they weren’t really praying and they didn’t want …

The Easy Way to Create Rituals

As most readers of this blog know, an essential element of the Fundamentals System™ is the process of using “rituals” to sustain the teaching and practice of your Fundamentals over the long run. When an action is turned into a ritual, or a habit, it becomes easier to sustain because it no longer requires effort to maintain; it becomes practically automatic. In my next few blogs I’ll offer some tips on using this powerful concept to your advantage as you work to institutionalize your culture. Leverage existing rituals The first thing I always teach companies about creating rituals is to …

How Many Behaviors Should We Have?

When we work with clients facilitating the process of helping them to articulate their behaviors (Fundamentals), there’s one question that comes up every time. “How many behaviors should we have?” The answer may surprise you; so let me try to bring some clarity to that issue in this blog post. No goal The simple answer to the question is: “However many you have!” I don’t mean to be coy or evasive, but the truth of the matter is that when we work with clients on this, we never start with a goal of getting to a certain number, nor do …

Response Time

As most readers of this blog know, we teach organizations how to be more systematic and intentional about creating their cultures. The foundation of that process is articulating and practicing the behaviors (we call them Fundamentals), which you most want to see. In this post, and in some of my future ones, I’ll take one Fundamental and explore it in more depth. Let me share with you one of my favorite Fundamentals: Beyond the business application of this Fundamental, rapid response has always felt like a deeply personal thing to me. If someone has a question or an issue, it …

For the St. Louis Cardinals, culture is no game

I was eating breakfast one day last week while working my way through the latest issue of Sports Illustrated and I came across an article about the St. Louis Cardinals. It seems the Cardinals are about to make their 5th consecutive postseason appearance (their 12th in the last 16 years), and are sporting the best record in the majors by a pretty good margin. While that’s certainly impressive, the more remarkable thing is that they’re doing this despite having lost their best starting pitcher and their top setup man for the season, and playing much of the year without their …

Do Corporate Values Limit Us?

Regular readers of this blog know that I’m a big advocate for defining our culture in terms of the behaviors we want to see, rather than simply articulating the values we believe in. Behaviors are clearer and more actionable, and they’re easier to teach, coach, and provide feedback on. There are two primary methods for describing behaviors and I’d like to use this blog to compare them. Two methods The first method is what I often call the Cleveland Airport Method, because it’s based on a poster I once saw in that airport. In this method, we identify our core …

Culture And Your Bottom Line

Is working on your culture just about making your company a nice place to work, or is it really a financial issue? Can your culture actually make you money? You bet it can! Let’s take a closer look at how and why this is true. Here’s a simple way to think of it: If you were to rate your people on a 1-10 scale in terms of how productive they were given their current level of talent and training, where would you put the average of your people? When I ask this question of most CEOs, I’ll typically hear them …

What can you learn from Ritz-Carlton’s culture?

I’m often asked about where and when I first got the idea for the Fundamentals and the system of creating weekly rituals to reinforce them. There’s a lot to be learned from that story, which goes back to 2002, so I thought I’d briefly share it with you here. In my never-ending search for ways to deliver amazing service experiences, I once took the entire staff of my former company, RSI, to the Ritz-Carlton in Philadelphia for a day of brainstorming. Since the Ritz was always known for extraordinary service, I figured they must have systems and processes that enable …

Do you have a culture plan?

When I’m with groups of CEOs, I’ll often ask them why they think culture is important. It doesn’t take long for them to rattle off all the ways in which culture affects their people’s performance. They’ll tell me that the culture influences how their employees deal with customers, the quality of their work, the degree of innovation, the amount of teamwork, and lots more. Then I take them through a series of questions that yields a fascinating result. It goes something like this: Me: “Given everything you’ve just told me, on a scale of 1 to 5 (5 being the …

Avoiding culture by committee

One of the biggest mistakes I often see companies make as they try to define the culture they want to create is the tendency to have too much collaboration. Why do I call that a mistake? Let’s take a closer look. At its most basic level, too much collaboration can paralyze a group and make it difficult to accomplish anything. “Too many cooks spoil the broth,” as they say. A group can spend so much time trying to satisfy everyone that the final product can get diluted beyond recognition. While all of this is true, there’s a far more important …