As a Business, We Are What We Aspire to Be
The title of this post applies to most things in life I feel and certainly in business. Unless we have goals and aspirations for our business, it’s hard to imagine arriving at a destination of our own control.
Businesses have long espoused the virtues of mission statements, but it’s only when you live these statements through everyday acts that they become real.
My business has always been driven by a few simple ideas, but only recently did I turn them into what I call a “culture statement.” I would say these ideas represent a great deal of what I’ve always stood for, but seeing them in this fashion keeps them even more firmly rooted in my day to day actions.
The idea behind a culture statement is to come up with a set of ideas for what you stand for and then build upon them in ways that make them real in everyday situations. This not only lets team members know a bit about what we stand for it also helps us all make the right decisions when the heat of the moment may creep in and attempt to dictate how we act.
This is how culture is built, communicated and lived through decision-making that happens in real time.
We use this document in training and keep it front and center at all times. It’s our plan to discuss individual attributes during review meetings and I’m happy to share it here publicly.
If you find this document interesting you might also enjoy similar ones from Buffer, Zappos and check out the companies rated by Glassdoor to have the best cultures. After wrestling with this idea for a while a couple things became very clear:
- A culture statement starts by reflecting who you really are – there’s no point in coming up with stuff that simply sounds good
- A culture statement should include some aspirational elements – it’s okay to include “this is something we strive for but don’t always achieve “- that’s how we grow
- A culture statement will evolve as you grow – add new things, take things away, consolidate and learn
- A culture statement, like so many things in business, will flow only as it’s lived from the top – if the boss doesn’t live it, it won’t mean much
- A culture statement must be taught, led and enforced – make time to discuss various elements of the culture statement as you teach and review actions inside the business
- A culture statement is a team game. not an edict – everyone in the organization needs to come to their own terms with what the values mean to them and how they can best live them