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How to Create a Turnkey Operating System for Your Culture
Overview: Effective CEOs have systems, plans, and analytics that manage and measure nearly every aspect of their businesses. But many don’t have a system for guiding the company’s culture, which is arguably the most significant driver of BIG growth. On today’s show, culture expert David Friedman explains how to build a powerful cultural operating system that replaces all those inspirational break room posters with a set of defined, teachable behaviors.
David Friedman on Building an Operating System for Culture:
If we understand how important our culture is to success, that it’s the driver of almost all of our performance, then I think we ought to be as systematic about our culture as we are about our sales, our finances, operations, or any other part of our company. Most leaders just haven’t thought about it that way. They know culture is important, but they think of it as this kind of soft, fluffy, amorphous, nebulous thing, as opposed to a hardcore business strategy that we should be as systematic about as we are about every other part of our business.
Culture starts at the top. The CEO is the Chief Cultural Officer of the organization. He or she must take ownership and responsibility for saying our culture’s important, and this is what we’re really trying to build. And so the organization is going to reflect, to a great deal typically, the CEO’s point of view about the world. As a leader, it’s your responsibility to be the visionary that says, this is what our company is about. And these are the behaviors that I want to have our company exhibit. And if I’m the leader of the company, I do need to be a good example of the things that I’m promoting or suggesting or recommending. That doesn’t mean I have to be perfect obviously, but I do have to be a good example.
If you think about all the things that you can do and all the things you are working on, probably with your CEO coach, to try to improve your company’s performance and scale, there probably isn’t a single thing that has more influence over every aspect of your company’s performance than your culture. It affects your ability to attract and retain the best people. It affects how they work together. It affects their innovation. It affects how they deliver customer service. It affects how much money you make. It affects everything. And so when we understand that, the obvious conclusion is culture is not something we ought to be leaving to chance. We should have the same degree of intentionality of system thinking about our culture as we do about other parts of the company.
Why High-Growth Companies Invest In Culture A ten-year study by Harvard professor John Kotter compared public companies with a strong focus on corporate culture to companies without.
4 Steps to Building a Powerful Organizational Culture CEO Coaching International’s Jaime Cohen Szulc discusses how the best firms establish shared values, goals, attitudes, and practices that characterize “how we do things here.”