September 8, 2010

Culture, club?

What’s created the experience you deliver today?

Understanding why it’s that shaped is key to improving yours and how that might be best tackled – where you might best focus your energy and your budget.

A culture, especially a highly distributed one – like a distributors network, for example – can
put the skids on any efforts to change it.
We know BP spends a great deal of time on developing competencies to make it’s operations safer. What appears to have happened in the Gulf tragedy was the result of it’s partners not getting that message.

Now of course loosing a customer to a competitor is nothing by comparison but if you want to improve your businesses long term survival delivering a better experience is key.
But how do you go about understanding what’s put that current experience in place?
One good place to start is with the behavior specialists and their studies of what shapes cultures.
At face value it’s easy to understand a company, just walk in and your first impression will give you a pretty clear idea. Let’s say that your’s in this instance wasn’t a great one. Taking aside the fact the person that was part of delivering that may just have been having a really bad day (which is why we spend a great deal of time collecting lots of first impressions!) let’s look at what’s likely to have given us that result:

1/ Artefacts
What’s been given to do the job? This can include logos, sales tools, physical design as well as rituals, shared language and reward systems.

2/ Beliefs
What does the organisation value and regard as being important?

3/ Control
Is power based in the structure of the organisation or the  capability of the individual?

4/ Discourse
To what extent will people open up and talk about issues in a shared environment and to what extent are issues held for debate in private, closed and secure groups?

5/ Energy
Where is all the energy going – the customers, suppliers or stakeholders?

6/ Flow
What’s churn rate, and why do people leave the business?

7/ Generative
Where and how does the organisation understand and drive its capability, to innovate and learn?

Finally don’t forget the conditions of time and place or region (more on that in the next post) and you’ll begin to see how the snapshot was framed.
Having a clear picture of the drivers of your culture now can help design a better experience in the future.

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About Richard Hill

Creative director, writer, designer, illustrator based in the UK with global project experience and consulting skills across sectors.

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