StrategyDriven Corporate Cultures Article

Core Components Of Company Culture

You’ve probably heard all kinds of business gurus talking about it. The company culture. They’ll tell you that some tip or another is going to improve it, or some mistake will damage it. But what exactly makes up a company culture? Why is it worth fostering and why is it worth protecting? We’re going to be looking at the answers to those important questions now.

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The most important part of a company culture, and of a business in general, is the goal behind the business. Every business must have a mission statement and a long-term goal that can inform the strategies they take in the day-to-day as well as the larger collaborative projects. But the most important part of that goal is making sure that everyone understands it.

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One of the reasons that ensuring people have their own grasp of company goals, not just individual workloads, is because they have a lot more to offer than just work. Great company culture is about realizing that good ideas can come from anywhere. To allow those ideas to flourish, you need to give people some control and autonomy over the work they do as mentioned at If they spot new solutions or new tools and techniques that help them better do their work, then let them try them out.

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To trust that they can use that autonomy well and that you can rely on them, it’s vital that the relationships within the business are kept healthy. The idea of fostering competition above all else does not create a healthy company culture. It creates a selfish culture. People need to better understand collective responsibility as well as personal accountability. The best way to do that is to create relationships where it’s safe for them to experience both.

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Think of the workplace as just another place that they have a relationship with. If the environment doesn’t treat them with respect, it fosters a lack of respect for the business, as well. Quality decor from places like creates a prestige in the environment that sinks into the culture and the people. It gives them more respect for the business, their roles, and themselves in those roles.

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If you haven’t figured it out yet, the people themselves and how they work within a business are what the company culture is all about. But not everyone is a fit for that culture. This is when you need to take the time to get more in depth with your hiring practices and processes. You need to not only identify the skills that people bring to the table but find a way to see if they’re a cultural fit as well. For instance, if yours is that kind of collaborative culture of shared responsibility mentioned above, then signs of selfishness and self-exceptionalism should rule out most future applicants.

As you can see, a company culture isn’t just one attribute. It’s how the different elements of the workplace all work together and come to a single purpose. It can create a company that can excel even without you at the wheel and ensures that the business never relies on any one individual too much, but gains a life of its own.

The One Strategic Mistake Your Company is Likely Making

Do you know what your company’s core values are?

You know, those ten to fifteen statements that are supposed to be the guiding principles that dictate the behavior and actions of your company? The foundation from which you are supposed to be ‘Built to Last’ and help you make your most important decisions? Could you recite them out loud right now without looking them up?

I didn’t think so.

Chances are your CEO can’t either. And I think that’s pretty sad. It’s part of the reason why most companies are mediocre. Most people, like your CEO, would say that having core values in business is important. However, very few are actually living them… not because they don’t have any but because of the opposite – they have too many. People can’t remember them all and so they forget. And if you forget what your core values are then you aren’t making decisions using them.

Stop confusing people.

Steve Jobs said it best: “Marketing is about values. This is a very complicated world. It’s a very noisy world… And so we have to be really clear on what we want [the world] to know about us.” And it’s not just about marketing. It’s everything. Your core value should be the lens through which you see the world and make all important choices. By having fifteen “core” values that nobody remembers, you’re needlessly complicating things for your constituents over who you are, what decisions are best for the business, and how to talk about your company. You’re confusing your team and everyone else around you.

What’s the solution?

Get it down to One Word. Whether it’s #Innovation (3M), #Love (Starbucks), or #Health (CVS), having a single guiding value helps communicate to your team, your customers, and the world what you stand for. It also helps make the big decisions easier like being one of the first big companies to stand up for gay marriage (Starbucks, #Love) or walking away from $2 billion in annual tobacco sales because it doesn’t align with your One Word core value (CVS, #Health).

This might be painful.

If you’re at an organization that hasn’t ever really dug into what’s most important then turning those fifteen core values from a plaque on a wall to an actionable, meaningful One Word, will be difficult. People will disagree. Some may quit. Others might be asked to move on. But until companies start looking beyond the resume, beyond the skills, and start looking at do our people’s values match up with what we stand for as an organization, then all the other strategies and tactics won’t save your business.

Get your One Word right. Apply it as the operating philosophy through which your entire company is run. Give your team, customers, and investors something to actually be proud of. And watch your culture, impact, and profits soar.

About the Author

Evan Carmichael is the author of Your One Word (December 6, 2016), and he also coaches entrepreneurs for peak performance. At 19, he built then sold a biotech software company. At 22, he was helping raise $500k to $15mil. He has been interviewed or featured as an entrepreneur expert in The New York Times,The Wall St. Journal, Forbes, Mashable, and elsewhere. He now runs, a popular website for entrepreneurs. He speaks globally and is based in Toronto. You can find him on Twitter @EvanCarmichael.

Steve Blue

Seven Lessons American Manufacturing’s Decline Can Teach Any Company

The United States destroyed its enemies in World War II because it out-produced them. Its manufacturing capacity was enormous and efficient. Its workforce was inspired and committed. The government, suppliers, and competitors all collaborated to produce the biggest manufacturing juggernaut the world had ever known. It seemed there was no end to America’s manufacturing might.

But there was.

The end to America being a manufacturing powerhouse began during the recession of 2008. Millions of middle-class manufacturing jobs were lost. And they never came back. In fact, since 1979, manufacturing employment has plummeted by over 33%. That is worse than the job losses during the Great Depression.

So what happened? How did the world’s mightiest manufacturing machine end up as the equivalent of room service to China? How did the nation with the workforce that won the war end up with a workforce outsourced to India? How did the most motivated, inspired, and productive workforce on the planet end up caring more about their bowling scores than their production numbers?

There is no shortage of explanations. Some experts claim China is to blame. Others cite United States trade policies. And still others say it is because of the rise of the Millennials.

However, very few people point to the real reason. And that is a failure of American leadership on an epic scale; a failure of government to work with manufacturing instead of against it; a failure of business to adapt to the global marketplace instead of running from it. But most of all, it is a failure of leadership to harness and unleash the remarkable potential of the American worker.

You can’t unleash this massive potential without creating a “culture by design, not default”. A culture by design has a bedrock of carefully selected company-wide values that motivates employees, delights customers, serves their communities and sparks innovation and creativity. But most companies have cultures “by default, not design”. They have what I call “bumper sticker” values. Bumper sticker values are created in boardrooms because they sound cool. But they don’t reflect the real, underlying values of the organization.

One has to look no further than the Wells Fargo bogus accounts debacle to illustrate this. Two of Wells Fargo’s key values are “ethics” and “what’s right for their customers”. And yet what they did was clearly neither. How can a company with those supposed ethics commit such an act? It can only be because while those values look good on a bumper sticker, the real, underlying values at Wells Fargo are “profit above all else”. Now don’t misunderstand me, profit has to be the number one goal. The problem with that as a core value, above all else is people will act that way. And when they do, relationships between employees and customers suffer, quality suffers, the books get cooked, and all other manner of bad outcomes.

That is why it is so important to build a culture by design. Cultures by design contain foundational values that drive organizational behavior toward remarkable outcomes. Cultures by default contain foundational values that drive organizational behavior toward bad outcomes.

The key point here is that you should choose values and not let values choose you. Here are some simple steps to get started:

1. Understand the values your organization currently has. Some, perhaps all, the values may be perfectly appropriate. Some may not be. But remember, the underlying values are probably different than the bumper sticker values. Conduct an anonymous survey of every single employee and ask them. Don’t make this a human resource exercise. It has to come right from the top to be taken seriously.

2. Once you know the underlying values of the organization, decide which ones are worth keeping, nourishing, and promoting and which ones need to be discarded. And then you and your senior leadership team can decide which new values need to be implemented. This is not a slogan exercise. It is a gut-wrenching soul-searching mission. Which values should you choose? It will be different in every company but you should choose values that drive organizational behavior toward remarkable outcomes. Don’t choose values that sound cool in the C-suite but stupid to employees. Choose values that everyone in the organization can get behind and feel good about. Sound like a tough job? It is. The last time I did this it took a year.

3. Declare to the organization the new values that have been chosen and why. If you have chosen well, people will applaud you when you tell them. If you have chosen poorly, you’ll be a water cooler joke. Be very deliberate and comprehensive when you announce the new values. Explain completely what each value means, why it was chosen, and what you expect from employees in terms of behavior to support the values.

4. Now comes the most crucial part. You must be certain your senior executives live these values day by day. You can’t expect “people from below to do what the top does not”. Some of your executives won’t go along with the new values. Ask them to leave the company. Yes, you read that right. One loose cannon on the values ship can scuttle the whole effort.

5. Align all organization policies and practices to support the new values. Make them part of performance appraisals, standards for promotions, and compensation increases. Don’t let this become a “check the box to keep human resources happy” exercise.

6. Once the values are firmly entrenched, don’t let anybody in the front door that doesn’t believe in them. Do a “values check” as part of the interview process.

7. And finally, this has to be a CEO initiative or it will fail. Think of this as a strategic culture plan, requiring years to execute, not months. And give it the same time, importance, attention, and resources as you do the strategic operating plan.

About the Author

CEO Miller IngenuitySteven L. Blue is the President & CEO of Miller Ingenuity, a global supplier of mission-critical solutions in the transportation industry and author of the new book, American Manufacturing 2.0: What Went Wrong and How to Make It Right. For more information, please visit, and connect with Blue on Twitter, @SteveBlueCEO.

S. Chris Edmonds

Your Most Important Business Strategy Is Culture

How healthy is the quality of your business culture? Does your work environment ensure every player – leader, team member, customer, even supplier – is treated with trust, respect, and dignity in every interaction?

When I engage business leaders in discussion about their culture, most shrug their shoulders. “Our culture is OK,” most of them say. The reality is that most leaders don’t pay attention to the quality of their culture.

Deloitte’s recent Global Human Capital Trends report, found that “few factors contribute more to business success than culture.” 87 percent of business leaders who responded to their survey believe that culture is important. 54 percent believe culture is very important.

If that’s the case, why don’t leaders make culture a priority? They don’t know how. They’ve never been asked to manage culture. Deloitte’s study found that only 28 percent of respondents believe they understand their current culture well. Only 19 percent believe they have the “right” culture.

This data shows that most leaders don’t know what to look for. Few leaders know what to do if they discover their culture isn’t healthy.

What leaders do know is managing results. They invest more time, energy, and attention in results than they do in their business culture, yet culture drives everything that happens in their organization – for better or worse.

Don’t get me wrong – results are definitely important. But they’re not the only important thing. In fact, managing results is exactly HALF the leader’s job.

The other half? Managing the quality of their work culture.

Those leaders that invest time and energy in the quality of their culture reap tremendous benefits. A purposeful, positive, productive culture boosts employee engagement by 40 percent, customer service by 40 percent, and results and profits by 35 percent. I can prove it.

How can leaders create a healthy work culture? By making values – the way people treat each other – as important as results.

Just as leaders create clear performance expectations then hold people accountable for delivering those expectations, leaders must create clear values expectations and hold people – including themselves – accountable for acting in alignment with those values, every day.

To make values observable, tangible, and measurable requires that values – ideas like “integrity” or “teamwork” – be defined in behavioral terms. Why? Behaviors are measurable.

If you define your integrity value with a measurable behavior like “I keep my promises” or “I do what I say I will do,” everyone will know how they’re expected to behave to ensure they’re demonstrating that value, daily.

By formalizing values in behavioral terms, then requiring all leaders to model those behaviors themselves, you build credibility for your values. You build credibility in your leaders. And you model the purposeful, positive, productive culture you want.

In the absence of formalized values, your culture is one of default rather than one of design. Don’t leave the quality of your work culture to chance.

Make culture one of your critical business strategies – and implement valued behaviors as a means to creating a purposeful, positive, productive culture.

About the Author

S. Chris EdmondsS. Chris Edmonds is a sought-after speaker, author of the Amazon best seller The Culture Engine, an executive consultant and founder and CEO of The Purposeful Culture Group. Named one of Inc. Magazine’s 100 Great Leadership Speakers and a featured presenter at SXSW 2015, Chris’ blog, podcasts, research, and videos are enjoyed by thousands at Driving Results Through Culture. Check out his daily quotes on organizational culture, servant leadership, and workplace inspiration on Twitter at @scedmonds.

StrategyDriven Corporate Cultures Article

Corporate Cultures – Driving and Anchoring Cultural Change

StrategyDriven Corporate Cultures ArticleBusiness leaders often talk about changing their organization’s culture… but what does that really mean? For most leaders, changing their organization’s culture is about changing how their employees make decisions and perform work. These leaders recognize that the organization’s underlying beliefs and values systems must be altered in order to change these behaviors.

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