Saturday, June 06, 2015

Pennywise and Culture Foolish

As we grow our business we are always looking for ways to improve it, ways to measure and apply focus, more efficient ways to achieve our goals. Most of these optimizations have historically had little to do with the most expensive asset of our business: our people.

 We have purchased all manner of platforms, tools, mobile apps to enhance productivity. Tools such as, Hubspot, QuickBooks, Supply Chain Management tools like SAP to get better at getting the right materials to the right spot at the right time. And we have spent trillions of dollars doing so.

 All of this spending has occurred while spending on fostering and optimizing talent has languished. This negligent phenomenon can be most likely attributed to the view of HR as a cost center. HR is typically not viewed as strategic and the tools, platforms, and apps are part of that cost center.

 Even while so much attention has been placed on Culture in mainstream media illustrated here in this New York Times article from May 2015.
One recent survey found that more than 80 percent of employers worldwide named cultural fit as a top hiring priority.

Domino is your business.  Courtesy of The Oatmeal

We need to start viewing how we manage our people as strategic advantage and pull it out from under the yoke of HR.  Optimizing people requires understanding how people are wired, what drives and motivates them, the type of environment they thrive in, and who they are surrounded by.  Everyone has experienced this as Culture Flow (borrowing from author Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi book on The Psychology of Optimal Experience) and typically happens for a brief time when everything comes together for a company.  When it happens it's really cool and the organization covers ground in months that would typically take years.

You have to pay attention and invest in culture to achieve Culture Flow.  And to pay attention you must understand how people are wired in your organization.  The first step to optimizing your most expensive asset, like optimizing every other part of your business is getting at the data.  You wouldn't go on a road trip without a map, you wouldn't start a business without first understanding the market, and you can't grow a culture without first understanding the values of your people.  It's so much less expensive than the wrong turns you'll make without a map.

Don't run your business like Domino and don't be pennywise and culture foolish.  Go figure it out.  You'll  find Culture Flow and as a result everything in your business will start to get easier.

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