Are we there yet?
All revolves around culture
At the heart of any company, regardless of its size, culture is what drive the business and market recognition. Already in 2015, Forbes published an article highlighting the fact that it is the new trend for corporations, reinventing their image, attracting new talents and making a statement in the market Culture influences the way products and services are created, how the customer is treated and, as a result, the way to create sustainable business. The challenge is to make sure that there is a culture, that employees understand it and is applied during the decision making process. If you are part of the management team of your company or better yet, the head of the company, you are responsible for setting up the culture you feel best reflects your operation and ways of doing business. There is a multitude of business cultures and some are better than others. You cannot really copy-paste from another company the culture you want to have. Differentiation is inherent to the process of shaping your culture.
Set your vision and make it known!
Regardless if you work in an established large business or are self-employed, no matter of being in retail, wholesale, production or distribution, each business must have a culture. Sometimes it is not visible or openly published; ask your employees and customers...they will tell you what they think based on their work practices, communication protocols and how they feel they are being treated. The challenge is to be honest and listing the good, the bad and the ugly to have a clear picture on where you stand. Then start adapting changes to make it better each time your review it. Changing a culture is very difficult as you need all the entourage of the company to work as one to understand it, adhere to it and apply it... all the way to your connections with suppliers and customers. The important is to have an open discussion, set your vision, list the actions and make it known to all.
Be accountable: culture = ethics
Having a culture and standing by it also requires to be accountable for it. Not just for the tap on the shoulder when it works but also to make the appropriate tough business decisions when necessary. Many times, one can be tempted by some business deal or behaviour towards employees, customers and suppliers that are not in line with ethical conduct. The culture of the company helps with guidelines of the dos and don’t in the daily life of the enterprise. Ethical mode of operation is critical in a world of communication and transparency, with all emails and conversations recorded to be scrutinised by anyone.
I want to highlight one point here: scandals have been rocking the planet since the ancient days.... digital information and data tracking just increases the tools given to society for keeping you accountable for your actions.
I wouldn’t be writing about culture if it hadn’t a direct impact on marketing. Most books about marketing highlight customer focus, targeting of your audience, market analysis, methodologies... All of those are remarkable but only if you have the appropriate conduit as your communication and perception into the market is driven by your culture. You can go through all the hoops and loops of the best marketing methodologies, if your culture is not where it is meant to be, you will fail in being sustainable.
Why in July??
Culture is not something you put in your agenda to think about next Wednesday at 3pm. it is one of those deeper areas of strategy that requires to take a step back from the hustle and bustle of daily business and let the mind go to a profound mode of thinking. For me, it is the kind of thinking I might have while dozing off in a plane or while enjoying a quiet day hiking in the mountains. The topic must be revisited at different intervals of the life of the company to make sure it is still actual and adapted to the market conditions, to the customers you serve and the employees that make the force of our enterprise. Anyone who wants to be a good leader, regardless of the level in the company, has to take the time to think about those essential elements of success of the company... so why not July? You might have less emails to do (other might be on vacation) or you might have time on your own to let your mind escape the daily stress of business to meditate about culture.
Are you there yet?
So, as you debate about culture and the identify of your company, try to visualise on where you stand on the road of having a vibrant and well communicated culture. Are you unsure about how to formulate it? Are you clear about its strengths and weaknesses? This is a never ending road but the vision should give you a bright horizon in getting there, till the next thinking moment comes. Enjoy the summer!!
Helping you Developing YOUR Culture and Taking your Ideas beyond: www.stiffan.eu
© STIFFAN Consulting July 2017
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