Culture Eats Strategy for Lunch

I’m not yet on my four hour work week so I still indulge at reading emails at all times throughout the day. One phrase from one friend caught my attention and upon further investigation, I’ve uncovered, not the source, but an expert. Here is some background and 7 ways to make sure that your positive culture radiates throughout your organization.

Ed Horrell, a Memphis-based speaker and author, was speaking to group in Atlanta the phrase ”Culture eats strategy for lunch” was offered by one of his attendees.

Simply put, the statement implies that companies who establish a particular culture in their business will be superior in practice than those who forsake culture for strategy or process. Culture will win every time.

Take a look at the finest companies in providing service, such as LL Bean, Nordstrom, The Ritz-Carlton, Chick-fil-A and others. A close look will reflect an actual culture that permeates throughout the entire organization from top to bottom. It is not their process that sets them apart, it is the way that they deliver their product or service; it is their culture.

You buy the same stuff at Nordstrom that you do anywhere else; their culture sets them apart. You get fast food at Chick-fil-A, cooked on the spot, served with a Coke, but it’s not the cooking process or the food that sets them apart; its their culture. The Ritz-Carlton checks you in, gives you a room, and feeds you just like hundreds of other hotels; their culture of service sets them apart. Note that the process and strategy of each of these companies is the same as their competition. It is their culture, their people, which separates them.

The question here is “How does a company establish a culture?” You show by example, discuss what is going on, compassionately correct and encourage when things are right. This creates a culture. The result is what is called “constancy of purpose”, a never-ending focus on an end-result.

Here are some ways to make that happen.

1) Establish in detail how you want your customers to be treated. Make it clear and concise, remembering that your employees have internal customers as well as external customers.
2) Make sure your managers understand these basics down pat. Clearly. Also make sure they know the importance of this employee/customer treatment.
3) Reinforce these with management constantly. This results in the above described “constancy of purpose”.
4) Teach the basics to all employees and require management to coach and enforce the practices.
5) Hire employees who “fit” the new culture.
6) Remember that the way we treat employees is the way they will treat our customers.
7) Talk about the culture every day.

The result will be a shift towards a culture that will be observable.

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