Day 11 of 21 days with Chuck’s new book, Why Employees Are ALWAYS a Bad Idea
“Culture eats strategy for lunch.” – Peter Drucker. What You Believe Determines Your Culture. A company with two people in it has a culture, and that culture is simply what you believe and value. Those beliefs and values determine how you make every decision. The outcome of those decisions is your culture. Which of these seven identifies your company?
Business owners complain all the time about lousy customers, or difficult employees and vendors. If you have customers, employees or vendors you don’t like, look in the mirror. The problem is almost always that you aren’t running your company on your culture, but on an addiction to shiny objects, or short-term decision-making (the need to get the money flowing quickly right now).
If you don’t like what you see in your company, your clients, or your Stakeholders, take a look in the mirror. It is very likely you aren’t running your company on what you believe, but are just taking clients, employees and vendors based on impulse. The revenue generated by violating your beliefs will not compensate for dissonance it creates in your business and more importantly, in your life.
Pick a Company Culture
In working with companies on four continents, we have seen seven common types of company culture. Which one is yours?
1) The Inmate Culture – people are stupid and lazy. They are boxed in, with no ability to make decisions and are at the mercy of the tyrants for which they work. This was the Carnegie culture.
2) Axle and Spokes Culture. It’s more like a cult than a workplace. He makes all communication and decisions. He divides the people against each other and forces everything to come through them, without interacting on their own. The guy at the top of this culture is usually very insecure, or has a giant ego. The “boss” is the center of everything.
3) Hired Hand Culture – People are a necessary annoyance in the business. The objective is to only give away the tasks the owner hates, and no others. They don’t want to hear from the employees. Go ride the fence and leave me alone.
4) Family Culture – I’m the adult, you’re the children. I will take care of you and protect you and burn myself out doing things that you can’t seem to get done. You will depend on me for everything. It makes me feel valuable. My door is always open for you to come to solve your problems for you.
We see this in everything from mom and pops to fairly large companies where the department heads function as the only adult in the department. Do you really want more kids? Some business owners and company leaders apparently do. People rarely get fired from this type of day care center.
5) The Allies Culture – The most predominant Industrial Age culture model still in practice in today. Like World War II alliances, the focus is largely on the task, and relationships are only a necessary inconvenience to help us get the task done. You don’t have to like each other; just need to focus on the task at hand. The overwhelming majority of big corporations have Allies cultures
6) Friends Culture – This “hippie” culture is a 1960s reaction to the Industrial Age and its Factory System. All authority is bad because the Industrialists abused it. We see The Friends Culture a lot in smaller companies that have been bought out by employees, or one employee who has worked there a long time. We also see it in larger but very new companies started by Millennials who are reacting to Industrial Age companies they have been around.
But the Friends Model is actually an unintentional extension of Industrial Age employment, because nobody wants to be the adult Stakeholder and make decisions on their own. They need to get everybody involved and the group makes the decisions. Kum ba yah – can’t we all just get along? Good luck with that. Consensus eventually, if not quickly, leads to something unremarkable that pleases everyone and stretches no one. The hallmark of the Participation Age is sharing, not consensus.
7) The Community Culture – This is the Participation Age model and works in companies from 2 people to 10,000 who are practicing it today. The Community culture, in its structure, looks a lot like the workings of a town. Every town has clear hierarchy; it’s not a “Friends/Hippie Culture”. Every town has a mayor (or other top decision-maker or makers), city council (leadership team), functional group leads and many others who all have some kind of accountability relationship, whether with a team or a single individual.
Clear hierarchy does not mean a heavily top-down hierarchy. A satellite dish to demonstrates the Community model that is taking hold in companies of all sizes. In this model, leaders are on the bottom as servants, not a privileged class. Hierarchy is de-emphasized by giving most leadership and decision-making to a much broader group of individuals; really to everyone. The satellite dish allows for leadership and decision-making to move from one person to the next as needed to accomplish the objective.
Sometimes the head honcho of the company finds themselves way out on the edge of the satellite dish, with someone else dead center in the middle of it, making some decision. Great leaders know when to get out of the way, and do it as often as they can.
Another good image of a Community culture is a soccer team, basketball team, or hockey team. Whoever has the ball/puck is the leader and they have to be trusted to know what to do with and who to pass it to next. There is a coach (leader), but they don’t run out on the field, grab the ball from each soccer player and kick it around themselves. If the players can’t be trusted to make good decisions, the coach needs other players.
In the Community culture model, giving this kind of ownership and responsibility is one of the most powerful ways to provide people the ability to Make Meaning, which is a much higher motivation for Stakeholders than just making money.
A few short years from now this will be a big duh, as the younger generation builds businesses in the Participation Age that encourage people to share in the creation of great companies.
If you don’t have a Participation Age Community culture right now, what one thing can you do today to begin to move in that direction?
This is a summary of a chapter from Chuck’s new book, “Why Employees Are ALWAYS a Bad Idea (And Other Business Diseases of the Industrial Age)”. Click here to pre-order this new ground breaking book at a discount on IndieGoGo.com until July 28.