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The Culture Secret

Why is a great company culture so rare? How can you make sure your organization has one? The good news is that creating an inspiring and sustainable culture is not as hard as you might think. Dr. David “Doc” Vik reveals the keys to success in The Culture Secret.

A remarkable culture begins with visionary leaders who help their teams take a holistic approach to creating engagement inside their companies and sharing it with customers. Discover how to take culture beyond casual Friday and into more meaningful conversations like:
•Driving Vision
•Defining Purpose
•Clear business model
•Unique/WOW factors
•Meaningful Values
•Inspired Leadership
•Great customers and customer service
•Brand enhancement
•Experience and the emotional connection

If you don’t think you have to focus on attracting—and retaining—the best employees in today’s hypercompetitive war for talent, you are living in the past. The employees and customers of today have a choice and a voice. The secret to culture is simple: take care of your people, never stop innovating, and leave customers wowed. Build a better culture to secure the future for any organization

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The Culture Secret

  1. 1. Some Impressionistic takes from the book of Dr.David Vik “The Culture Secret ” How to empower People & Companies No Matter what you Sell by Ramki ramaddster@gmail.com
  2. 2. About the Author Dr. David Vik is known as “The Culture King,” and his corporate culture techniques and strategies yield net results in many different business sectors by helping to attract and retain high-quality, engaged employees and loyal customers. Prior to penning The Culture Secret, Dr. Vik was a coach at Zappos.com, where he helped to engage and empower employees. Before joining the team at Zappos, he founded and directed one of the most successful chiropractic clinics in the United States
  3. 3. Prelude In The Culture Secret, Dr. David Vik explains how the creation of a superior corporate culture will lead to tremendous gains in profitability, employee effectiveness and commitment, customer loyalty, and growth. This culture is developed by determining a vision, identifying a purpose, configuring a business model, providing unique/WOW factors, and adopting meaningful values. Once these building blocks are joined, inspired leadership can provide the guidance to ensure that quality employees provide outstanding service to appreciative and devoted customers whose allegiance enhances the company’s brand. In today’s highly competitive business environment, companies must attract the best talent, offer the best services, and be able to grow and innovate. Those that create the best cultures will be the most successful.
  4. 4. This is what we are Doing- Vision  The vision is the starting point on the route to a successful culture. A vision must express the essence of what a company does or wants to become, or what it wants to deliver, and it must fulfill its employees, be aligned with the times, and exceed customer expectations.  At the most basic level, the vision is what planners want the business to become. The vision statement should be expressed as a concise, simple slogan. It should not limit the company but inspire and motivate it. The vision statement should be simple enough so that employees can remember and understand it.  This is a necessity if they are expected to live up to the vision.  Both Google and Apple have mission statements that combine vision and purpose components. The vision portions are italicized in next slide :
  5. 5. This is what we are Doing- Vision  Google: “To organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”  Apple: “To make a contribution to the world by making tools for the mind that advance humankind.”  Both visions address the what of each company’s endeavors without limiting their productive scope by incorporating specific details. Google and Apple employees can embrace their respective visions with the conviction that what they do will be truly valuable to people.  Creating the right vision might require several attempts. It should describe what is special about the company or its objectives, be they customer satisfaction, quality, or uniqueness. An effective vision will attract employees who are enthusiastic about working for a company that expresses its character in such a fashion, as well as customers who are drawn to its promise.  To be effective, the vision must be up-to-date and aligned with the requirements and desires of both employees and customers. A vision that keeps up with the times enables better employee understanding, which helps them make better decisions and directs their efforts more productively.
  6. 6. This is why we are Doing - Purpose  The Second step in building a culture is defining a purpose, which explains why a company does what it does. Employees will identify with an inspiring company purpose, and their motivation will result in improved customer experiences and strong allegiances.  Within the company, a well-crafted purpose will give employees a reason to come to work excited about their tasks. The combination of vision and purpose will provide a clear path for the ideas, actions, and creative energies in the company.  Again, the mission statements of Google and Apple are listed below, this time with the purpose components italicized:  Google: “To organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”  Apple: “To make a contribution to the world by making tools for the mind that advance humankind.”.
  7. 7. This is why we are Doing - Purpose  Both purposes address the why of each company’s efforts with simple, well-defined phrases that can make Google and Apple employees eager to come to work because they are part of highly significant goals.  The importance of articulating a potent vision & purpose combination cannot be overstated. Customers have more options today than at any other time in human history, in large part due to information technology.  In order to attract and keep them, both vision and purpose must be highly appealing and clearly stated. Employees have many options, too. To attract the best of them, a company must be able to use vision and purpose to formulate a meaningful invitation to those who are enthusiastic about joining in this effort.
  8. 8. This is why we are Doing - Purpose  Just as important as expressing purpose clearly is the need to keep it current.  Over time, a company’s directions and priorities may change in response to consumer demands and market forces.  Large numbers of reliable employees leave their jobs because their employers no longer appear to have the same purpose they did at the time of their hiring, and there seems to be no compelling reason to stay.  Without a sense of purpose on the job, these workers look elsewhere for fulfillment. Careful and periodic evaluation of purpose, and updating when necessary, can keep employees engaged and committed and customers satisfied and loyal.
  9. 9. Every business today has to cultivate a culture that, first, learns what motivates, empowers, and rewards its employees and, second, translates that into positive experiences for its customers.
  10. 10. This Is What Will Fuel Us—Business Model  A successful business culture has to be sustained by a business model. The business model should clearly describe structure, messaging, processes, procedures, and outcomes.  Many traditional businesses have fallen by the wayside because they failed to keep pace with current consumer practices. Brick and mortar shops provide a good example of this: large numbers of consumers have reduced or eliminated their habits of visiting physical locations to make transactions, instead making purchases over the Internet. Companies that learn from this trend by maintaining an online presence will be more survivable in the future.  Old school business models that adhere to past practices must expect failure. The successful business model will maintain pace with the wants, needs, and demands of customers.
  11. 11. This Is What Will Fuel Us—Business Model  Defining the market is vital for a company and means identifying the consumer base the company wants to attract.  The consumer base may wish to buy a product, service, or specific knowledge. The business model need not cater to everyone, but it should not be overly limited, either. If the model creates a product, service, or knowledge type in a way that the competition has not thought of, it can help configure a completely new market.  Of equal importance is understanding how the business model will engage with people, and vice versa.  Customer service is an essential factor in developing a successful business model. Treating customers like they matter, giving them more value than they expected, and making them eager to repeat their transaction experiences are vital to a business model’s success.
  12. 12. This Is What Makes Us Stand Out—Unique /WOW Factors  Unique/WOW factors are those elements that make a company different from its competition. “Unique” refers to those aspects that make it exclusive and distinctive, while “WOW” refers to its ability to invoke a highly positive emotion.  Unique/WOW factors should be a part of everything done within a company & should be reflected in customers’ experiences. Two kinds of unique/WOW factors are associated with most companies: what is sold and how it is sold.  The what and the how of sales should be distinctive, articulated in a manner that is easy to remember and repeat, and be familiar to every employee. This ensures that a consistent message is delivered to the public emphasizing the company’s unique/WOW factor.
  13. 13.  When selecting unique/WOW factors, two questions arise:  What can the company do that competitors do not or cannot do?  Will it attract employees and customers?  Careful analysis of these questions will result in the identification of highly effective unique/WOW factors.  Customers who are attracted by these factors are the ones who will remain loyal to a company.  When choosing unique/WOW factors, it is crucial that they be selected on the basis of exclusivity. They can be related to service, experience, value, quality, price, or incentives. Once determined, these factors must become so deeply ingrained in the company’s consciousness that employees appreciate them and become committed to delivering them to customers.  Unique/WOW factors will not always stay unique and, without periodic review, may become stagnant.  This means that objective self-analysis must be performed in order to verify that they are up-to-date and satisfactory to both employees and customers. If obsolescence appears to be threatening, it is time to evolve them into something more current in order to maintain their effectiveness. This Is What Makes Us Stand Out—unique/WOW Factors
  14. 14.  Values are those things that a company holds close and considers important. They should be clearly written and stated so as to be understandable without explanation. When employees believe in a company’s values and commit them to daily activities, they create a culture that will attract more like-minded employees.  Ultimately, this culture will attract devoted customers who appreciate the employees’ values, dedication, and skills.  Values must be determined carefully because they become a company’s blueprint for what it represents and what it plans to become. Values should assist in directing employees’ actions and decisions, which will aid the company in achieving its vision, purpose, business model, and unique/WOW factors.  To facilitate acceptance of values, all company employees should take part in creating them. Initially, this will result in an oversized list, but it can be reduced to a narrower range that is congruent with the company’s vision and purpose. This Is What We Care About—Values
  15. 15.  When creating values, it is useful for companies to consider the following concepts:  Encourage transparent and open communication.  Get things done by enhancing efficiency and eliminating wasteful legacies.  Treat people like they matter—both employees and customers.  Lead people by helping them to reach their full potential.  Embrace continual reinvention.  A company’s leaders are highly visible, whether they know it or not. Consequently, they must be good reflections of the company’s core values, living them and displaying their natural adherence to them on a daily basis. This Is What We Care About—Values
  16. 16. Values should be beneficial; they are meant to unite, inspire, and motivate. They should be transferable to the next generation through the corporate DNA, while remaining flexible enough to be relevant to needs of future employees and customers.
  17. 17.  Culture refers to the collective thoughts, actions, and beliefs of the individuals within a group. The key aspects of vision, purpose, business model, unique/ WOW factors, and values support a culture’s structure, and the people who participate bring the culture into existence.  Employees benefit from a culture that engages them and fosters their creativity. Their attitudes and actions will soon be mirrored by customers. Properly promoted, the culture will unite employees toward a common vision and purpose. This will be facilitated if they have been clearly stated and are easily understood.  The term “work ethic” describes how members of a culture work.  Different employees in different situations will approach work in different ways, but the best work ethics will balance growth and creativity. The companies that benefit from this are the ones who treat their employees as if they matter. This can be done by including them in planning sessions, providing sufficient resources to complete their assignments, and clearly stating productivity expectations. This Is What Is and What Could Be—Culture
  18. 18.  When a company changes its culture it should include its employees in the change process. Engaged employees will create an environment in which they can be eagerly involved and that will attract like-minded new employees. When the culture is tied to the vision, purpose, and values of a company and then aligned with group activities, unity is the result.  Being able to identify a poor culture is every bit as important as being able to create a strong one. High employee attrition is the most visible symptom of a poor culture, and inevitably equates to customer loss.  Curative measures require that a new culture be created perhaps with improved or reinvented vision, purpose, and values. This is essential because in order to gain customers and keep them loyal, effort must first be directed at encouraging employee loyalty. This Is What Is and What Could Be—Culture
  19. 19.  Effective communication is vital to maintaining a great culture. Being able to communicate in a common language based on beliefs and traditions is what ensures a culture will thrive.  Unfortunately, growth can diminish effective communication. The farther away the voices of management travel from the employees, the less clear the messages, and the greater the likelihood for misinterpretation.  As a general rule, once a company grows to about 50 people, or when an organization gets divided into teams or divisions, communications suffer.  To counter this, executives should meet once a week for an hour to create a common language, provide unity, and form relations around the vision, purpose, and values first, then around the business model and the unique/ WOW factors. This Is What Is and What Could Be—Culture
  20. 20. Culture is the living, breathing, thinking, and creative sum of all the beings in a particular group. It is their collective thoughts— their beliefs and ways of thinking—actions, and decisions. When such a group of people acts as one, anything is possible.
  21. 21. This Is Empowering and Passing the Torch—Leadership  Leadership is central not only in keeping the foundations of corporate culture solid, but in empowering employees. Skillful leadership can bring a culture to life and help pass on its essence to a coming generation.  However, leadership is derived from management. The distinction is important: one leads people & one manages processes.  When leaders empower and engage their employees, future generations of leaders and employees will maintain the corporate culture that supports its success.  To ensure continued success, leaders should objectively consider whether they have:  Consistently demonstrated leadership skills  Acknowledged and recognized their staffs  Complimented their staffs  Accepted sole responsibility for employees’ growth  Motivated others with their own actions instead of giving orders
  22. 22. This Is Empowering and Passing the Torch—Leadership  Effective leadership involves communicating evaluations of employee performance. Therefore, it is important to know the difference between criticism and feedback.  Criticism is subjective and emphasizes faults and shortcomings. It does not encourage better performance, just chips away at motivation. More useful is an explanation of how to do a task correctly.  Feedback focuses on what people are doing right and on what still needs to be done. It incorporates praise, approval, compliments, and support. Ideally, a leader will act as a role model and mentor and always focus attention on the positive aspects of employee performances by using feedback and encouragement.
  23. 23. This Is Empowering and Passing the Torch—Leadership  Successful leadership is based on three factors: Self-improvement—Leaders who improve their own skills and performances are better able to pass their knowledge and experiences to their teams. Communication—Using employee names in everyday personal conversations enhances leaders’ connections to their employees, as does showing sincere interest in their activities. Promptness in communicating, both inside and outside the company, also shows caring. Relationships—Leaders who care about their employees will find that employees care about their companies. Relationships are cultivated by concentrating on what one can do for others.
  24. 24. If employees are engaged, empowered, and directed by their leaders, future generations of employees and leadership will be able to maintain the corporate Culture that underlies its success. Leadership is the crucial starting point or foundation of this cycle.
  25. 25. This Is the Group of Champions—Human Resources or Human Empowerment  As an organizational department, Human Resources (HR) arose in the 1960s and was originally designed to help maximize employee potential. Over time, expanded duties have diluted this role to a great degree. In many places, a summons to HR induces needless anxiety.  The solution may be to help HR be viewed in its proper role as a caring, empowering department that helps employees advance to their next level.  An active HR department can regularly ask employees if they need anything or if it can help in any aspect of their daily lives. Coaching sessions, in which employees drop into HR and air frustrations or grievances, can be opportunities for HR staff to truly connect and make positive suggestions that empower employees to improve themselves.
  26. 26. This Is the Group of Champions—Human Resources or Human Empowerment  An effective aspect of this practice is to give employees a direct phone line and personal email address. They may not use them, but they will feel supported and confident knowing that assistance is readily available.  HR can also be highly effective by using streamlined hiring practices that include employees in the process.  First, it can hold an open application meeting where candidates listen to an employee describe the company and its vision, purpose, and values.  Next, three- to five-minute interviews can be conducted by three employees using prearranged questions. After that, the employees can rate the candidates. Once the group interviews are completed, the most promising candidates can be contacted for offers or further interviews.
  27. 27. This Is Essential to the Process—Customers & Customer Service  The relationship a company has with its customers determines how they see that company and what they say about it. Once, people would tell friends about a good or bad consumer experience and the information might be confined to that small group.  Today, however, the Internet and social media permit a good or bad experience to reach millions of people quickly.  For this reason, customer service has to be addressed differently than in the past.  Some companies have devoted significant efforts to gain new customers in the belief that, regardless of customer satisfaction, a constant draw of new customers will guarantee money flow. This practice is tremendously short-sighted in that it rarely takes into account the costs of gaining a new customer, as well as the cost of losing one through poor service and indifference.
  28. 28. This Is What They Say About Us—Brand  A brand is the result of a company’s vision, purpose, business model, unique/WOW factors, values, and culture. It can take many forms and, over time, has come to represent identity, i.e., the character of a product, company, or service. Ultimately, a brand is what customers say about a company, not what the company says about itself. A company can determine its brand image by seeking out customer opinions.  Regardless of whether the information obtained from this exercise is positive or negative, it is valuable because it provides an opportunity to become better.  The brand is developed by what a company does and how it does it. The process is best started with employees.  Treating them with respect and consideration and giving them the resources to improve results in a committed work force that is highly motivated to deliver superior service.
  29. 29. This Is What They Say About Us—Brand  The most important advice for customer service (and satisfaction) is this: if a company can make and maintain a positive emotional connection with its customers, it can keep them for a lifetime.  Customers may indicate that they desire things like value, service, low price, quality, or selection, but what they prize most highly is certainty.  They want certainty that a product or service has a consistently high quality.  Not surprisingly, this high quality starts when employees believe their employers are respectful of their customers and  have their best interests in mind.  Employees will respond by delivering that certainty to customers..
  30. 30. This Is What They Say About Us—Brand  A company’s brand is both its identity and its reputation, and having employees that are committed to protecting the brand inspires them to go to great lengths to correct poor consumer experiences.  As with the concisely-stated vision, purpose, and values statements, brand messaging has to be just as short and clear to facilitate customer memorization.  It should enable the customer to know what to expect by way of experience, and should be both predictable and repeatable. Over time, customer demands will force products and services to evolve.  Therefore, brands must also change to reflect customers’ current wants and expectations.
  31. 31. This Is the Pot of Gold If We Do It Right—Experience & the Emotional Connection  Creating a superior culture is only a part of enhancing a company’s success. It means little unless the company can consistently create a superior experience for its employees, customers, vendors, and investors.  Doing this guarantees the future of the company and its employees, and establishes a business where neither customers nor employees want to leave.  A superior experience creates an emotional response that forms an emotional connection and, ultimately, a memory that keeps drawing people to that great experience.  Every time a superior experience is delivered to a customer, this process takes place, creating or strengthening a loyal customer bond. Experience can be what the customer likes to remember or wants to forget. This means that it is the marketing of the future, and ensuring that a customer’s experience is the best eliminates the need for customer service as a curative effort.
  32. 32.  Culture is the behavior and beliefs of a particular group. In a corporate environment, culture is built on a structure that began with a vision and a purpose, and includes a business model, unique/ WOW factors, and values.  A company’s vision explains what it does and can be a source of guidance for employees. It can keep them motivated, enthusiastic, dedicated, and directed toward success.  A company’s purpose explains why it does what it does, and gives employees a reason to show up for work excited about their responsibilities. It not only keeps talented employees, it attracts them as well.  When developing a business model, companies should consider that most of mankind’s major advancements are related to two concepts: reducing effort and delivering an experience. A successful company will ensure that its product, service, or knowledge will address one or both of those concepts. Take away
  33. 33.  A business model should be well defined and sharply focused. The wording should be concise, clear, and address the key areas of structure, message, process, procedure, and outcome.  A value-oriented organization is one that encourages transparency and open communication, treats people with respect, and embraces continual reinvention.  A company that cares about its employees will have employees that care about it. These employees will perform their duties in a way that attracts and maintains customer loyalty.  A leader’s most critical duty is to help others develop their full potential. This means empowering people to take responsibility for their own growth and allowing them to maximize their capabilities. Take away
  34. 34. Mail your comments to ramaddster@gmail.com