Why Culture is the Key to your Organizations Success by Burke Allen
In the early years of an organization, the personality of the founder(s) directly shapes the culture. But as the company continues to grow, reaching critical mass, the influence of the founders diminishes sharply. In its place, the culture tends to be shaped by a default set of factors – primarily the individual personalities of the various people groups that arise. Instead of a unified culture, organizations tend to develop pocketed “sub-cultures” that are often dis-united or even in conflict with each other.
A strong, unified corporate culture is a sight to behold. But it doesn’t happen spontaneously. It is the result of methodical, strategic intentions and careful, disciplined execution.
Discretionary effort - the power of culture
Discussions of culture can seem soft and irrelevant. But culture is the key to “discretionary effort” – perhaps the most valuable commodity an organization can cultivate. Discretionary effort is the highest form of engagement. It’s one thing for an employee to meet minimum requirements. But top-performing companies are characterized by people who give discretionary effort.
And culture is always the reason for this level of engagement. Here’s why.
People buy into ideas, but they sell out to cultures. For better or for worse, no other aspect of an organization matches the gravitational power of its culture. Mission and values are at best convincing. Vision and purpose are at best compelling. But culture alone has the potential to be captivating.
People are designed to be resilient – not resistant
Cultures influence us more than our beliefs, our parents, our role models, and our own intentions. Mechanically, the function of a culture is holistic, touching us intellectually, emotionally, and exponentially, all at the same time. Against such an orchestrated front, none of our individual faculties is designed to resist. By nature, people are designed to be resilient – not resistant – adapting to their surroundings.
By nature, people are impressionable, not impregnable. By nature, people are interdependent, not independent. By nature, people yearn for suitable cultures to which to prescribe all their being. By design, people need cultures.
Cultures, even bad ones, inherently possess the environmental characteristics in which people are designed to thrive.
A strong culture is not just your personality and vibe. It’s a set of characteristics that are:
- Distinct (different from the rest of the world and from other companies)
- Objectified – like a republic… You can point to the constitution… It’s a reference point, not a subjective opinion or someone’s personality.
It’s defined by:
- A common language
- Rituals or practices
- A “constitution” (or master plan)
With the help of our “cultural engineers“, we at NovoLogic help companies draft a master plan for shaping their chain-wide culture as well as the communication strategies, tactical plans and social technologies, required to accomplish it.
Blendcasting – the art of culture building
With a holistic culture plan in place – a practice we call Blendcasting - the impact of events like seasonal conferences will begin to extend far beyond the normal spike of engagement that traditionally occurs around these events themselves. With the entire arsenal of culture-building elements in place, the corporate essence will permeate all aspects of the organizational experience – creating year-round engagement for franchisees, corporate staff, and store-level employees.
Do you feel your culture is diminishing? Are sub-cultures developing within your organization? Is it time for you to start thinking about developing a culture plan?
Co-founder – Chief Executive Officer
While setting the strategy and overall management of the organization, Burke likes to work hands-on with clients as well. He simultaneously performs the roles of strategist, technical consultant, creative director, and process improvement consultant.
Burke has a varied background in application development, technical infrastructure, marketing, sales and management process throughout his career with IBM, Financial Software, Inc. and Impact Information Systems.
Consider his background and the continued work with the various Fortune 500 and small business clients for the past 11 years at NovoLogic, and it is no wonder he has earned a reputation of being a trusted advisor to the many people who rely on his judgment and expertise every day.
As a former decathlete for the University of Georgia, Burke enjoys a variety of sports activities as well as coaching youth sports teams.
It is an honor to have Burke Allen as part of our #bealeader™ community. Thank you for taking the time to contribute to our real leaders, real issues series. If you would like to submit a guest post to our ongoing series, visit our website www.gingerconsult.com to learn more.