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9 March, 2011 / Karl Maier

ROI on Culture? You know it!

Why bother with all this culture mushy stuff?  Isn’t this just a bunch of feel-good nonsense that does not provide a return?

Real, positive team culture has shown an incredible ROI, particularly as the group moves from one stage up to the next one.  How does that look to an organization?

  • Productivity: increased productivity of up to 400%.
  • Hiring and Retention: better way to find and keep top people.
  • Personnel Development: motivated people develop faster and help others.
  • Growth: people and attitude drive growth in an organization.
  • Success vs Failure: culture can be the difference between going out of business.

The exact results will depend on what your organization is trying to achieve, but culture has a real ROI.

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2 Comments

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  1. Paul Buenaflor / Apr 1 2011 4:57 pm

    Check out this provocative point by one of the founders of 39 Signals.

    “You don’t create a culture…”

    http://37signals.com/svn/posts/1022-you-dont-create-a-culture

    Now, Karl, I suspect if you sat down with this guy, you really wouldn’t disagree that much. But it does beg the question: how much of culture can really be shaped proactively, and how much do you allow to happen organically?

    If it can be shaped at all, then it probably gets back to “values.”

    Someone once said that everyone has the same values. What matters is how you RANK those values.

    Sure, everyone values customer satisfaction, employee satisfaction, and shareholder satisfaction. But when those three come into conflict, and you can choose to act in favor of only one, which two do you throw out the window?

    I don’t think I’ve ever seen THAT ranking on any mission statement.

    • Karl Maier / Apr 3 2011 7:49 pm

      Very good question. Can culture be shaped proactively? I agree that values are part of shaping it. Goals are also part of culture. So are other things that management can guide, like communication and teamwork. So, yes, I think culture can be actively shaped.

      Values are a key component of the culture equation. First, I must challenge the thought that we all have the same values. That is not consistent with my experience. Many people will say they value trust or honesty, but those are not core values of everyone. A core value is one that is important in the same way that a religious belief is held, it cannot be rationalized, it is just a matter of faith. These values don’t change. If you hire someone who does not share a key core value, then there will be a conflict with other team members. Hiring well is a big part of managing values and thus culture.

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