Preventing Hyperbolic Company Cultures

Preventing Hyperbolic Company Cultures

 

Our July 23, 2019 article here is still generating much interest among senior executives who have been grappling with amorphous and non-contributory enterprise cultures for years based upon their writings to us.  This article will confirm if your enterprise is so situated and if so, how to stop digging that very deep hole.

As we shared in our earlier article, enterprise Mission and Culture must be aligned solely around business outcomes in order for enterprise efficiency and operating results to benefit shareholders, owners, customers and employees on an equal basis.

In terms of the usual business performance metrics, it is easy for nearly all businesses to do about as well as their benchmark competitors, but even easier to do much better than most or all of them in terms of enterprise culture.

The center of gravity for enterprise outcomes is always the competitor benchmark average that always includes enterprise cultures that are either debilitating or dubious.  You will see how, as you read further.


DURING THE LAST 6 YEARS-

Seven of our newer clients have sought our assistance to rightfully refashion their company cultures during the last 6 years.  In most of those cases the stimuli for change has been a combination of economic globalization and/or the intuitive client desire to improve efficiency and financial results…in many cases owner or shareholder returns.  One is a medium size Not-For-Profit operating only in the USA, one is a medium size Tribal enterprise operating only within its sovereign nation, one is a large U S public enterprise operating in 11 countries, one is a very large German enterprise employing over 100,000 employees, one is a broadcast media company, one is a rapidly growing 17-year old technology company, and one is a regional bank operating in the USA.

All 7 of these engagements have involved cultural transitions to the collective benefit of customers, employees and shareholders.  It has been the cultural transitions by these enterprises that have propelled each of them far beyond their benchmark competitors within no more than 3 years in each case.  And fascinatingly, it appears that each of those benchmark competitors still has no understanding of what changed, most likely because culture is a cryptic subject for those competitors and many other enterprises perhaps including yours.

Our first scenic view on this journey is that of stated or unstated enterprise culture being a lie with the result of all business outcomes being much uglier:

 

HYPERBOLIC CULTURE, DISTILLED-

Please bear in mind these researched and verified facts as some of the underpinnings of organization culture:

  • All professions have customers, without which those professions would not exist.  Within hyperbolic cultures employees are the subject of the culture instead of the customers being the rightful subject.
  • Whether a person is a bank robber or a CEO there is over a 97% chance that their primary identity is their profession as opposed to their employer and what it provides or does not provide to employees.  Within hyperbolic cultures it is the enterprise desire to have its professionals define the employer as “special” instead of defining customers as such.
  • Thought-to-be-cute culture maxims such as “Teamwork Makes The Dream Work” increase human inefficiency and degrade enterprise results largely because they are ethereal and nondescript.  Soft cultures do not create hard business results except by accident and only briefly.  Within hyperbolic cultures formless distractions away from customers and markets are very common.
  • When senior executives have frequent and meaningful connection with customers, so do their managers and employees.  The opposite is also factual.  Within hyperbolic cultures senior executives tend significantly to talk about customers rather than with customers.
  • Customers gain nothing from, and employees are distracted by enterprise endeavors and expenses that customers never experience or see.  Please contact us for current examples of non-accretive culture additives due to the fact that increasing numbers of enterprises are now learning the hard way what culture does not consist of.
  • Zombie Cultures exist whenever enterprise cultures are not communicated clearly in writing and/or are not communicated frequently while being complied with universally.  In nearly all such cases the number of internally conflicted cultures is derived directly from the number of supervisors employed…as many as 9,400 of them in our experience.  Or worse, the total number of employees employed…as many as 47,100 of them within that same enterprise.


CREATING CLEARLY ACCRETIVE AND NON-HYPERBOLIC CULTURES-

Approximately 65% of enterprise cultures have developed either incrementally, accidentally, or disjointedly while not being founded upon either enterprise customers or enterprise results.  In those cases, the culture is at best an erratic contributor to enterprise outcomes.

Based upon our and many other bodies of research those cultures tend to be erroneously aimed internally, toward people receiving paychecks, without clear benefit to or focus upon customers and business outcomes either directly or indirectly.

We have found through our interactions with some of these enterprises that many of their results growth limitations result from the limitations and expenses created by their own hyperbolic or muddled cultures.


SOME OF OUR CULTURE GUARDRAILS-

Below are several of our culture remediation steps frequently agreed to by our global clients as highly necessary, while understanding that culture remediation is nearly always simpler and quicker than falsely suggested by many executives and consultants:


HOW TWO CLIENTS HAVE SUCCESSFULLY REPLACED  HYPERBOLIC CULTURES-

Through our work with 2 of the above referenced clients while realigning their Cultures solely upon business outcome growth, they are no longer distracted by widespread internal conflict, misaligned individual and team objectives, and pursuit of culture practices on a philosophical basis…subjects like “fun”, “dog-friendly”, “radical candor”, “respect”, “diversity”, etc.  In one client case, employees now compare what they have contributed to what they should have contributed instead of comparing their dogs to other dogs at work.

Increased diversity, mutual respect, fun, inclusion, factual decision making, creativity, workplace safety, quality, timeliness, cooperation, learning, reliability and rapid problem resolution among other exceptional culture manifestations have all improved as a result of culture rather than as a purpose of culture.  In simple terms it is now culture cause and culture effect with both the cause and the effect being significantly improved business outcomes including in terms of how people work together.

In both client cases their hiring models and staffing methodologies have also been simplified by well over 40%.  Their hiring is now based largely upon highest capability to contribute measurably.  And their top lines and bottom lines have grown magnificently because of what one client CEO states as, “We are no longer herding hummingbirds.”

We suggest you reflect upon what these 2 client enterprise cultures now include and do not include, while remembering that enterprise culture remediation includes more than copying and pasting another organization’s stated, universally practiced and highly productive enterprise culture:

“We have a culture of commitment shared by all employees toward all shareholders, customers and other employees, as well as a vow of maintaining our legacy and future of continually increasing our financial strength and market share.  People as either customers, employees, investors, prospects or vendors are what matter most to all of us.”

____________

“Our company culture creates elated customers by employing only people who share that commitment, while continually building the efficiencies and results of our business operations and also establishing the standard by which we and our competitors are measured.  This culture continues our more than century-long commitment to everyone with whom we work.”

If your company’s culture is not derived directly from its mission, is not written, is not communicated broadly, is not complied with while not being jumbled by distractions imagined to be culturally crucial, and/or is not consistently reinforced by all key leaders, your enterprise culture is limiting its financial and operating results in all likelihood on 3 to 8 crucial dimensions.

Our purpose with this article is to help you know if and to what degree, if any, your company culture is hyperbolic at the expense of the company itself.

 

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