Culture has been a hot topic over the past few years.
While many companies have polished processes and an effective profit and growth formula in place, many more companies continue to struggle attracting customers and staff alike, have unpredictable profits, and struggle to grow by fractions, let alone multiples.
In both cases, companies are turning to culture for a solution. Unfortunately, while budgets and forecasts, training and policies are easy enough to to establish and follow, culture is more abstract and ethereal, making it difficult to describe and consume.
Culture begins within the business owner. It is shaped by what he or she believes, and more importantly, tolerates. While sometimes formed in fear and desperation, more often it is forged from their own history and experiences.
After 3 years of research on the subject following the scientific method, I’ve constructed and tested a hypothesis that I believe to be true.
My curiosity first peaked when I heard the phrase, “in any organization, culture eats strategy for lunch”. It had me asking myself if this statement was, in fact, true, and if so, how so?
My initial investigation lead me to Ray Seggern, Wizard of Ads™ Partner who spoke about story, experience, and culture:
Story is what you say. It is the personality and promises you put in your communication.Culture is who you are. It is the experience your employees have within your company.
Experience is what you do. It is what your customers perceive when they interact with your company.
Authenticity occurs when your story and your customer’s experience align. When these don’t align, you get bad reviews.
High employee morale is what happens when your story and your culture align. When these don’t align, you have cancer in the building.
Brand Ambassadors are born when story and culture and experience align. This is when your happy customer chooses to become a member of your family, part of your brand.”
This formed the basis of my research. I went on to explore a multitude of research studies, books, and anecdotal evidence.
What I discovered started as a recurring theme for all successful businesses:
- All of these businesses were set on helping people win in their own unique way.
- All of these businesses operated with integrity and were worthy of trust.
- All of these businesses operated with little to no ego, hubris, or arrogance, acting with humility and gratitude.
So I formed my hypothesis:
Businesses that believe in helping people win in a trustworthy and grateful manner are the most successful businesses in the world.
I then went about testing my hypothesis with my existing clients and against public examples, including those in the research that lead me to this hypothesis.
After hundreds of tests I have concluded that the three pillars that make up my hypothesis are true and inclusive of everything a company needs to be successful. That said, I welcome anyone who can bring me evidence that would disprove my conclusions.
In my research, I uncovered the sad truth that businesses can be very profitable if they choose to be evil, or are evil with the best of intentions, but will only remain profitable and sustainable for the short term.
Those companies that intentionally or intuitively fit within the hypothesis enjoy long term, sustainable growth and profitability, with a happier and healthier workplace.
But this only represented the beginning of a much larger truth.
Now satisfied that these 3 CORE principles facilitate success, I needed to understand HOW they could be implemented in such a way that they would be lasting and impactful to the desired results of growth and profitability.
I needed to know more about what matters in a culture.
For this, I turned to psychology.
What motivates people? What demotivates them? What are our intentions as leaders to succeed ourselves? For others?
As you can well imagine, these are less rabbit holes, and more highly complex, very deep ant hills.
But again, consistently emerging to the surface was threefold:
- The pursuit of happiness
- Maintaining one’s mental health
- Financial freedom
I believe that we collectively agree that minimizing pain and maximizing pleasure is a shared human characteristic. Not only does this help support one’s mental health, it can make for a more durable positive mindset.
As humans, we create heuristics (coping mechanisms, shortcuts) to handle the outside world. As stimulus continues to increase exponentially, we seek better solutions to cope. From rude customers to micromanaging bosses, maintaining (in fact, defending) our mental health has become very real.
Financial freedom to do what you wish, whenever you wish, not being held down by obligation is the desire of most business owners. For employees, it’s the freedom to enjoy some of our world’s most sought after freedoms; time with loved ones and rest, a roof over our head, food to fill our family’s belly, and to experience things that make us happy or feel pleasure.
My research was coming around full circle.
What I uncovered was powerful:
- The secret to happiness is gratitude.
- Mental health is derived from intrinsic motivators and eliminating demotivators.
- Company profitability comes from your employees feelings of abundance, which are their extrinsic motivators.
What’s most interesting is that when you authentically align the values derived from the hypothesis discussed above with your company’s standard operating procedures, that you can feed and nurture a happy, healthy, and wealthy culture.
When you have a happy, healthy, and wealthy culture you have highly productive and engaged employees that will go above and beyond the call of duty. You have eager, enthusiastic, and mindful employees who you can empower to always do the right thing. You…and your employees become self-actualized, operating at your fullest potential.
And now you have employees who make good decisions and make the company exponentially more money.
The best part is that it becomes self-perpetuating. Wealth breeds health. Health feeds wealth. Happiness grounds entitlement. Gratitude ties us to our customers needs.
And that’s why culture matters.
While culture eating strategy is cute and clever, I now firmly believe that culture IS the strategy.
PS – Do you want to make culture your strategy? Please feel free to send me an email to start the conversation. I’m happy to answer all your questions.