This is a question that I am often asked:
“How do you create a great culture in a business or in a networking group?”
It’s a fantastic question about a topic that I love to talk about.
Culture is a critical key to an organization’s long-term success. It is one of the most important things in a company or group, and it applies to all levels throughout the organization. There are many factors that go into building an organizational culture. The variety of contributing factors includes a blend of attitudes, beliefs, mission, and philosophy that help to create and sustain a successful brand.
Culture Takes Time
Creating culture is a journey, not a destination. You can’t get there overnight; you have to be patient. I believe that culture is created in three primary phases:
Organizational traditions lead to organizational core values which lead to organizational culture.
To me, the creation of culture is straightforward. First, understand the healthy traditions of an organization. Second, consistently implement and practice the organizational core values, then share them, discuss them, and write about them. When you do these two things well, you create an amazing culture.
Get All Levels of the Organization Involved
Collaboration encourages engagement. When everyone in the organization knows the core values and participates in the traditions, they help create a positive culture for the group. In BNI®, the worldwide referral network I founded more than 37 years ago, we have focused on getting a high level of engagement throughout the company. This includes a Franchise Advisory Board to address organizational challenges, a Founder’s Circle to provide feedback about issues concerning the organization, a Board of Advisors made up exclusively of clients to ensure engagement regarding policies that affect the organization globally, and several other entities to help ensure full participation at all levels. Engagement can sometimes be messy, but when done correctly, it encourages a collaborative culture.
Culture Eats Strategy for Breakfast
Remember, if you are part of an organization with a great strategy and a marginal culture, you’ll struggle. If you are part of an organization with a marginal strategy but a great culture, you can do well. However, an organization with a great strategy AND a great culture will be an industry leader. Culture is the secret sauce for organizational success, and as I’ve said many times – Culture eats strategy for breakfast.
Business schools often talk about Strategy and typically make it a primary focus. However, culture is much less understood, and it is even more important than strategy for success. Organizational culture affects the way people within an organization interact with one another and the people they serve.
I’d like to know your thoughts about culture – in a company, BNI Chapter, or in another business organization. Share in the comments below.