In initial conversations with company executives, 92 times out of 100, they’ll call us and say something like, “We’ve heard you’re culture change experts and we need to change our culture. We’re thinking we want it to be more fun like that Tony what-his-name guy’s company—umm, Zappos. Can you do a “we ‘heart’ employees” (I say tongue-in-cheek) campaign or something to help us with that?”
What do you think about this statement?
Invoking a more strategic mode of behavior is a sure path to more social or material benefit.
When I ask this question, I usually see hesitance or reluctance. People really start pondering. Interestingly, asked in a workplace environment, the answer is eventually in support of the statement; though the magnitude of the expected benefit varies. Moreover, the answers correlate quite considerably with the hierarchy-level. Upper levels are clearly much more convinced of it than lower levels. And there is less support in private settings as well.
My admiration for Challenger brands—brands that look squarely in the eyes of the incumbents, the Goliaths of a category, and say “There is a better way and here it is”—stems from a discipline and devotion to their Purpose that isn’t swayed by fashion, trend or whim. They remain focused on the reason their founders began the company to start with.
There’s a silent power within your organization that’s quietly moulding the patterns of behavior that will determine your culture. A survey probably won’t detect it, but identifying and shifting it will have a significant impact on performance. We’re not talking about values or behaviors here, but something far less universal and more specific to individual organizations. The dominant, but tacit, influencer that has the capacity to both limit and liberate a business: our shared organizational beliefs.