Experts in mergers and acquisitions see this all the time: Culture makes all the difference. Get the culture right, they say, and you have the key to success.
But what is it exactly that they are pointing to when they say "culture?"
Simply put, culture is the way we do things around here.
Some experts in corporate culture dislike that simplistic definition, but it works for me. Sometimes simple is the best.
There is nothing quite so practical as a good theory.
So let's look at the "way we do things around here." It could be your biggest blind spot. Do you even know?
And what things make the difference?
In looking at your corporate culture, some of the things that make the most difference include...
How do we treat each other? Do we treat one another with kindness and respect? Do we look out for one another? Do we intentionally try to bring out the best in each other? Are we always looking for better ways to unleash people so they can use their talents? Are we recognizing and celebrating our people? Are we developing our people? Do we cooperate and collaborate for the good of the whole? Do we push ourselves to continually improve to be the best?
How do we treat our customers? Do we do everything with the customer in mind? Do we remember that the old saying "customers make paydays possible" is literally true? Do we believe that we only exist to serve the customer? Do we listen to our customers? Do we strive to make it easy to business with us? Do we take their complaints to heart and make real improvements based on the experiences of customers?
How do we treat our place? Are we good stewards of the resources we have? Resources include financial resources to be sure. Additionally everything from the office or lab or shop that we work in, to the impact our presence has on the surrounding community and environment. Do we operate safely? Are we mindful of our place and the impact we are having? Are we a good corporate neighbor?
In asking such questions, your exploration of your culture will surface many things that lie beneath the surface.
My Canadian OD colleague Jan Yuill shared this motto with me some years ago and I think it provides a good starting point for looking at your corporate culture:
"Take care of yourself, take care of each other, take care of this place."
Terrence Seamon helps his clients strengthen their culture. Follow him on twitter @tseamon, and on facebook Facilitation Solutions.