May 14, 2011

Evolving Our Company's Culture!

Today I'm writing about the journey all of Macadamian is embarking on. A couple of weeks back we kick-started a corporate-wide company culture consultation. Our realization is that whether or not we are aware of it, we have a culture. A culture is alive and it evolves. At Macadamian we want to be intentional about our culture evolution.

Background on the Realization of the Need

Last year I took an extended vacation. It was one of the best decisions I ever made. My goal with the vacation was firstly to get some rest and secondly to structure the organization so that I could focus more attention on the strategic thrusts of the business.

My journey through the strategic thrusts is only starting. One of the things that stood out quickly for me was the importance of the company culture in our current and future successes.

It's important because defining the culture allows us to:
  • find ways to have our people be passionate about what they do,
  • find ways to inspire our people,
  • understand from a cultural standpoint how things are to be done in our organization.
With the passion of employes and the understanding of the makeup of the culture, we all get clarity. With clarity comes speed in decision-making and actions. From where I stand this makes working on the culture a pillar of success. At the same time I was reading Delivering Happiness from Zappos and about its author rock star Tony Hsieh and quickly realized we could/should tackle this challenge.

Why Culture Matters

I use the following model when I talk culture and how it's linked to both strategy and execution:

As an organization we always aim to get results from our activities. Results can be achieving a milestone, delivering on a task, or meeting the revenue target.

Results are made up of a series of behaviours. To achieve results, an organization needs people. These people must have certain behaviours to be able to transform What we're trying to achieve into How do we achieve it.

Behaviours are made from our beliefs. The behaviours we have in our day-to-day are driven by our beliefs. The beliefs are directly connected to our value system as individuals or organization.

So the moral of the story is if you want people to have different behaviours there is one way up and it's understanding the organization's beliefs. What happens then is you're playing with the value system. This is the building blocks of the organization.

We have a culture whether or not we are aware of it. I believe strongly about being intentional about things. Several years back we defined what our values were back then and it has served us very well. Our culture has evolved from what it was, because it's made up of the people working at Macadamian. Now we're a much different business with very different and bigger ambitions. I strongly believe that evolving our culture is the foundation to achieving them.

The Beginning of the Journey: A Company-Wide Consultation 

Although I had read the book and I thought it was really important to make it happen, I wasn't sure how to go about it. There is much to do before we review and revamp our culture. It starts by getting our crew to embark on the journey and making them part of the process. We sent one of our top guys to the 2-day boot camp. François came back a convert, so I highly recommend it. François now leads our effort in making it happen.

We started the consultation a few weeks back. Right now I'm using my time to discuss with everyone in small groups what the value proposition of Macadamian is. A while back I wrote up a deck of what I want success to be for Macadamian. I call it our three legged stool strategy. I'm also using the opportunity I have in meetings to refresh the crew's memory about it. All in all, the process so far is creating a dialog opportunity for me; an opportunity that I enjoy!

In parallel, we have François helping people ask themselves the culture questions. We're lucky to have a user research group at Macadamian that along with François has come up with a questionnaire format and questions. The questionnaire will help him and his team orient the discussions whereby we solicit people's feedback.

Next Steps

I will have more to write about it in a couple of weeks. The next big milestone for us will be putting the feedback together. I will meet with the leaders who have put that feedback together so they can present it and I can ask questions to get more context.
Stay tuned!

1 comment:

Tim Padgett said...

We love to see companies that understand the power of a great culture. Congratulations on recognizing this—and living it!

One of the most experiential things that can contribute to culture is a solid employee volunteering program.

Teer1 is a platform that can facilitate a robust employee volunteering culture. We help companies encourage, manage and leverage employee volunteering. Check us out. We love making employees and companies more successful.

We’re new. We’re hot. We’re here to serve companies that understand that corporate social responsibility can be a very potent marketing tool.

If you want to learn more, please give me a call for a full presentation.


Tim Padgett
847.963.0333 main
847.907.3383 direct
847.922.8050 cell

“We have no patent on anything we do and anything we do can be copied by anyone else.
But you can’t copy the heart, the soul and the conscience of the company.”
– Howard Shultz, CEO Starbucks