Welsh players celebrate winning the 2013 RBS 6 Nations Championship – photo copyright BBC
There’s no point creating a corporate view of what you want your culture to be whether that’s in the form of a vision, a mission statement or something more verbal. Just because you want that trite epithet to be your culture, it doesn’t mean it will be.
Culture isn’t created by a little Paul Daniels’ magic. It is more like a child, born uncertain as to what it will become and evolving over time after exposure to the right conditions and nurtured in the right environment. It requires good parents, who don’t chastise or blame but rather lead by example. They don’t “will” what that child will become; they behave as they want it to behave, setting the standard. It is that consistently set standard that becomes the norm, the behaviour that everyone emulates because it is exemplified by its leadership in everything that they do.
Take a leaf out of the 2013 RBS 6 Nations winning Welsh rugby side. They started the tournament with a dreadful loss to Ireland after capitulating during an embarrassing first half performance. The senior players, though, had an ingrained culture of exemplary hard work, belief in self and each other combined with a refusal to accept defeat. That culture had been developed through the squad by its coaching staff and senior players. They remembered their corporate culture by the end of the first game, but it had been too late to turn that result around. They stuck to their beliefs and their behaviours though and, by the final game of the season, their devotion to their culture, their consistent behaviour, resulted in a remarkable performance which no-one expected.
Don’t wish for better culture, behave like you want it to be.
This isn’t poor career advice or me encouraging moral depravity.
For years now, the most successful companies have realised that getting punters hooked on their “gear”, is a sure fire way of improving market share. From freeApps that require ‘in app’ purchases to be truly enjoyed, to Dropbox cloud-based storage, which gives you 2GB for free (or up to 18GB if you refer friends), successful businesses know how to create an addiction that needs feeding.
Like any good drug dealer though there’s no point just providing ‘try before you buy’ food-tasting like in the supermarkets. It’s got to be substantive enough to be of value on its own, capable of segregation from the real value product and sufficiently connected to the main draw to make the punters come back for more. Whilst some of the suppliers to the professional services sector, like LexisNexis and Thomson Reuters (with their newly acquired PLC product set), have mastered the art of creating an addiction, I am not convinced that the businesses that they serve are similarly street savvy or bold with their own approaches.
Whoever thought we might encourage lawyers and accountants to improve their business model by throwing away their moral compasses and becoming dealers!
Whether, it’s applying for that new job, choosing a new service vendor or just which restaurant to eat at on Friday night, it’s too easy to defer making the decisions that are going to allow us to make progress.
After all, we don’t know all the facts yet. It might be the wrong choice. We don’t have that report we need. If I wait, I’ll make a better decision….won’t I?
The answer is, “probably not”. I’m not encouraging you to throw the dice or just go on gut feel or instinct; it might feel good but that’s simply an excuse for abandoning all reason. All I am saying is ask yourself some simple but blunt questions and be honest with yourself when replying.
- Are the other answers you need likely to have a significant impact on your decision? Or is what you know now enough?
- What is the adverse impact of delaying your decision? Will your prevarication lose some of the benefits you’re seeking to achieve?
- Are you really going to arrive at the perfect decision by waiting? Is there a risk that you’ll arrive at a similar quality decision after you’ve waited?
- Will a decision now, be good enough? What extra will the perfect decision get you?
After all, there is a confidence that comes from progress and progress comes from making a series of decisions about what to do. Build up your rhythm of decision making and watch your confidence grow. Granted, you’ll get some wrong, but learn to evaluate what you know and, if it’s enough, go ahead and make your mind up now. You will learn from your mistakes and you will get confidence from the process and the progress. Confidence and progress are great foundation stones to build on.
Even if you do make a mistake you might be able to correct it, so be brave and boost your momentum by making decisions: don’t prevaricate.
Sometimes we lose sight of how easy it is to be more effective in our work and personal lives.