Culture Fits | #MyFridayStory №62

Case studies of successful organisations over the past 100 years all point to one common trait: They all have a strong corporate culture.

There are great stories of companies such as the low-cost airline Southwest Airlines that have energised their people through driving a particular culture — a culture of driving down costs. They have consistently been one of the most profitable airlines in the United States. Their people are incentivised to find more effective and efficient solutions to drive down costs. An example is they have no aircraft cleaning crew. The flight crew clean the plane upon landing, speeding up the turnaround time on the ground and getting the plane up in the air again as soon as possible.

The Dutch based international financial services company ING, has been at the forefront of the banking industry for decades. Much of their success is attributed to their strong corporate culture. Taking their lead from the simple one-page strategy, every employee is empowered to deliver, no matter where in the business you work. This is their simple one page Strategy:

  • Purpose: Empowering people to stay a step ahead in life and in business
  • Customer Promise: Clear and Easy; Anytime, anywhere; Empower; Keep getting better
  • Strategic Priorities: Create a differentiating customer experience
  • Enablers: Simplify and Streamline; Operational Excellence; Performance Culture; Lending Capabilities.

Through living this simple strategy and delivering on their promises at every touchpoint, ING has outperformed rival international institutions.

Developing a culture of excellence where the entire organisation is on board and living the vision, mission, values and promises, starts at the top. Often, a strategy is developed with the senior members of the company, that never leaves the boardroom. For a strategy to affect company culture, the emphasis has to be inward. Internal marketing through consistent and relevant communication, cannot be emphasised enough. It is only when the people are energised and ‘feel’ the purpose of the organisation, that they become company evangelists.

In their book, Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies, by James C. Collins and Jerry I. Porras and the follow up, Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…and Others Don’tby James C. Collins, they investigated companies that consistently outperformed their competitors. They researched large companies that had over 100-year histories, taking a leader and a laggard per industry to compare strategies. The measure used was the organisation’s stock price over the period.

The findings in both books was that cult-like cultures, the ones where the people stood with their hands on their hearts in support of the company vision, the competition struggled to compete. What is interesting about the two books is that between writing them, some of the top companies in the first book fell out of favour and their stock prices fell. On closer investigation, the winning culture will have been upset and replaced by something more toxic or sinister.

Marketing’s purpose is to create a fertile environment for a sale to take place.

Without including your people in your strategy, no marketing can be effective. A brand comes alive and becomes memorable through how people speak about it to friends and family. Seth Godin calls them ‘Sneezers!’

Ensuring every encounter a potential client has with your people, requires a shift in which the entire organisation embraces a culture of excellence that is driven by the company strategy.

Does your company have a clear and easy to follow strategy that everyone can embrace?

Have an awesome weekend!

Originally published at https://www.leapfirst.co.za on July 26, 2020.

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