Last month I introduced the topic of business culture and core values. This month I will discuss a couple of examples to highlight the difference a bit of effort and passion can make in building an organisation that differentiates your business and attracts top talent.
You can search for Netflix Culture and get a lot of information on how they built a very effective culture. I ended up with a 125-slide deck and have no hope of jamming it all into this article. Here are the highlights for me:
An important point here for me is this didn’t take five minutes. It took many years of building up, learning and refining, getting clearer and more confident, taking pains to document the outcomes carefully. And not being afraid to be different – for example eschewing brilliant jerks and management control. With the company values at the centre, they built six other aspects of their culture around helping them to achieve excellence. The key is to build a cohesive culture based on authenticity.
“Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” A quote attributed to Peter Drucker, one of the most admired leadership academics of all time.
While a brilliant strategy may be admired, it is an organisation’s culture, supported by leadership, that attracts, engages, energises and aligns great employees to the achievement of business goals.
“So what exactly is business culture?” you ask. Good question. For me, it is a combination of an organisation’s ideology and personality. “The way we do things around here.” “The things that matter to us.” We will explore this in the next column or two.
The foundation of a business culture is a set of Core Values. According to Collins and Porras in “Built to Last” (2002 paperback edition), Core Values are a business’ “essential and enduring tenets – a small set of timeless guiding principles that require no external justification.”
Along with a Core Purpose (covered in The Beacon in October 2017), they make up an organisation’s Core Ideology – a “self-identity that remains consistent through time and transcends product/market life cycles, technological breakthroughs, management fads, and individual leaders.” These don’t sound a lot like “maximise shareholder wealth,” or “make the boss obscenely rich.” But time and time again, when studies are undertaken about enduring business success, these very “unbusinesslike” Core Values lurk in the findings.
My favourite set of Core Values are The Body Shop’s:
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by Chris Bunce
Chris has 28 years’ experience as a management consultant and business coach. During this time he has worked with clients in many industries and of all shapes and sizes, including some in Australia, Asia and the US. Nowadays he is passionate about improving the lives of Aucklanders by helping business owners to master the very few management practices that actually make a difference to their success. Chris lives in Blockhouse Bay with his wife, Cathie, having lived in or around the area for most of his life.