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Secret 42: Creating Culture

Secret 42: Creating Culture Book Cover

Culture—it’s Not Just For Europeans

Company culture is one of those things that people in business love to talk about. It’s trendy and everyone touts it as a key to business success, yet few companies know how to actively use company culture day-to-day. It’s often just a passive concept. Most companies get the management team together for a one-day workshop to create a culture statement. It goes into the employee binder and onto a wall plaque in the reception area, then no one ever thinks about it again. Many companies don’t have a method or process for bringing their company culture into their business practices.

Here are the keys to creating a winning company culture:

1. Defined by the Group: The most effective cultures are developed and refined by the people in the organization themselves. A company culture isn’t some boilerplate list of values that’s simply handed down from the president’s desk. A meaningful company culture represents core beliefs that everyone actively buys into and adopts in their daily work. It helps breathe life and purpose into company operations.

2. Five Words: A great company culture can be summarized in five words. Why five? Because anything more than five words is difficult for staff, customers, and suppliers to remember. Three or four words is even better, but five words forces an organization to focus on the most critical core values and beliefs that will motivate the whole group, and not be forgotten.

3. Shared Definition: Each of those five words must have a clear definition and meaning, easily understood and shared by everyone on staff. When we made “family” a keyword at my company, I discovered that there were many different perceptions and connotations of the word. It’s the same with loyalty, honesty, and service. Everyone has different interpretations depending on their own experiences. Therefore, each word needs to have a clearly crafted definition that is universally understood by everyone in your business.

4. Actively Managed: Business owners are famous for saying, “We don’t really have a culture here.” But the fact is, they do. It’s just being actively created by the worst employee at the company. Culture is alive and organic, and unless it is responsibly created and managed, encouraged and discussed, the void will be filled by what is easiest and laziest to say or do. Great company culture is intentional and idealistic. It needs to be managed and supported daily to provide ideal experiences for customers and staff.

5. Repeated like a Tibetan Monk: You know your company culture is effective when it’s on the lips of staff like a mantra on the lips of a Tibetan monk. Some people on staff might express it in ways that sound like, “I know, I know, we always treat our clients like our favorite grandparent or rock star.” They might repeat it like a disgruntled twelve-year-old in a mocking Homer Simpson voice, but that proves that they know it by heart. Knowing it is the first step to owning it, and then to living it daily.


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Secret 42: Creating Culture Book Cover