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LAST CHANCE TO FIND OUT – What’s the ROI of your culture?


Quick poll: do these statements accurately describe your organization?

  • We have close to 100% employee engagement (as in your people literally couldn’t imagine working anywhere else)

  • We charge more than our competitors, but still get customers because our work is that good We actually attract the best talent in our market (sorry, don’t take HR’s word on this. Look around. Are these people really the best in the business?)

  • We’ve won the local “best places to work” competition so many times they asked us to stop entering.

Yeah. Sorry to rub it in. Don’t feel bad, though. Most companies don’t meet these standards.

But some do, and we actually found them in our research. They were from different industries and came in different shapes and sizes, but they had one thing in common: ridiculously strong cultures.

Notice we didn’t say cool cultures or happy cultures. We don’t care if you have beer in the fridge or cater gourmet meals for your employees (though feel free to run with that). We care that your culture is strong, and that what is valued internally actually drives success and delivers exceptional performance.

The good news is, the recipe for a strong culture is not as difficult as you might think. There are two basic components:

The Base: The 4 Food Groups. All cultures must be rooted in capacities that drive success in today’s business environment (hint: it’s not the capacities that worked fifty, twenty, or even ten years ago). The companies we studied shot out in front by strengthening four key capacities that make sense in today’s world: digital, clear, fluid, and fast. They are the base of a strong culture.

The Secret Sauce: Your Unique Recipe. On top of the base, your culture must support the unique power that drives your success, tailored to your specific context, market, strategy, and business model. We know you’re not Zappos, so don’t think you have to copy their culture. Build one that unlocks your potential. Make sure what is valued internally is sharply aligned with what drives the success of YOUR enterprise. All strong cultures are unique.

So how do you create a strong culture?

That’s also surprisingly (and pleasantly) uncomplicated. And we can even continue with our culinary metaphor:

Step 1: Prep

Figure out what you’ve got, what you need, and get everything ready. You need an honest assessment of your culture–neither your Base nor your Secret Sauce will be perfect. Identify the strengths and gaps are in order to improve them. Our Culture Strength Assessment will get you there, and it doesn’t take long to complete (see below).

Step 2: Mix and Shape

Prepare the elements that will come together in the final dish. Make a series of visible short-term changes inside your organization that start moving the needle on culture strength. Better staff meetings, clearer policies, improved collaboration. Pick the low-hanging fruit that will show your people what a strong culture really looks like. We call this “making it real.”

Step 3: Bake it In

Put it all together and start cooking. Leverage your early success by making more fundamental changes to key internal processes like hiring, performance management, budgeting, office layout, and more. When it comes to culture strength, go big or go home. We call this “making it permanent.”

Try Our Culture Strength Assessment

The first step is our Culture Strength Assessment, where you’ll figure out what you’ve got and what needs work.

It starts with our Culture Scan, an online survey that your staff can complete in about fifteen minutes (you can even pilot it with a single team). Based in our research, the Scan results will paint a compelling and nuanced picture of your cultural strengths and needs (so get ready for some truth).

Then we take you through a half-day Culture Review, where we interpret the results and implications of the Scan together. We can do this with just the management team, but if you’re ready to jump in with both feet, then we recommend a multi-level, cross-functional work group–it’s your call. During the Review, you will start to map out what, exactly, you are going to change in order to become stronger. This is where it gets exciting.

Then we integrate the results of both the Scan and the Review into our Culture Book (what ordinary consultants would call a Final Report with Recommendations). The Book gives you:

  • Strength ratings on the four base capacities, with insight about your range of effectiveness within each
  • A gap analysis to help you prioritize efforts based on what actually makes you successful
  • Internal benchmarking metrics (like an Employee Net Promoter Score) so you can track progress over time
  • Real-world action items that you and your team sharpened down to a level of detail that makes them both doable and high impact.

Start to finish, the core version of the Culture Strength Assessment can be completed in a matter of days or weeks. We can design more extensive data gathering or a more involved Culture Review process (if you’ve got the time and budget), which will give you a more powerful Book to work with. Again, it’s your call. You’ll use the Strength Assessment to launch your efforts on Making it Real and Making it Permanent (and obviously we can help you with those stages as well). Contact Maddie at to see a sample report and get yours set up.



(photo credit)

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