Getting Naked is a book by Pat Lencioni. It’s about a business owner who decided to sell his business after a potentially life-changing experience: a car accident involving his daughter.
After the business was sold, the new owners realised that the main reason for the success of the business was its unique culture, rather than anything on the balance sheet or in the systems/procedures manual.
Culture must be one of the hardest things to change in any business. The reason for this is that:
– any culture must be authentic to be meaningful – i.e. a true reflection of the people and their values
– it is almost impossible to get people to change their values (this has been one of the hardest lessons I have learned during my time with K&H)
From a practical point of view, this means that the only way to get the culture you want is to hire a team who share that culture (and ‘liberate’ those who don’t).
But what if you have all the right people on the bus and the culture/values that you need, but your customers clearly don’t share them? Over time this will erode the commitment of your team and they will start to slack, or leave.
So the answer is that you also need to get the right customers on the bus, as well as the right team. I think this also applies to all the people your business deals with, such as suppliers and other partners.
How do you communicate your culture and values in such a way that only the right people are attracted to you? Pat says that most of the values statements plastered on the walls and websites of businesses are too bland (Integrity, Teamwork, Honesty, Respect, etc.).
What is needed is something more personal and punchy. Some examples are:
– Southwest Airlines insist on all new employees having a sense of humour
– A Fortune 500 CEO who wanted ‘sense of urgency’ as a core value
Pat suggests that we should pick two things that define our company’s exciting personality and use those values as criteria in hiring, managing and promoting.
I am going to think about what K&H’s two essential, defining things are. What would yours be? Please post a comment with your thoughts.
Thanks to John Warrillow (http://builttosell.com/blog) whose blog post about Pat Lencioni’s books inspired this.