I’m sitting here this morning looking out from my hotel balcony at the Gulf of Mexico. We just concluded the Service Nation Alliance Spring meeting and the Spring 2017 International Roundtable events in St. Pete Beach, Florida. I live due east, a little over an hour away. One thing that I’m always amazed at is the difference in culture between the Fla beaches and my neighborhood. Take away the palm trees and you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between my community and a general U.S. suburb. The Beach culture however, is distinct and consistent. Gentle sea breeze, sand, rum-laced drinks, laid back lifestyle and never more than ten minutes away from a Jimmy Buffet song. Matter of fact, one of our luncheon’s theme was Cheeseburger in Paradise.
My most powerful take away from the week’s events is the importance of a vibrant and healthy company culture. It surfaced directly and indirectly in almost every single talk, seminar and panel discussion.
In fact, in one panel discussion where the panelists spoke about the pros and cons to adding additional services to your business, the concept of culture found its way into the conversation even though the separate panelists offered diverse company backgrounds. For example, if you’re an HVAC contractor considering purchasing an electrical company, make sure your cultures are compatible.
Your Company Has a Culture
Every company has a culture. The vibrant, healthy and productive ones are usually rooted in company values that live out every single day in your business. There are many different ways to build and nurture your culture. If you’ve followed Comanche Marketing over the last year or so, you know that I believe in working through the WHY of why you are in business. Hubspot offers another excellent example.
The not so vibrant cultures usually occur when there is a disconnect between company leadership and everyone else or company leadership is rudderless. Or, in United Airline’s case, both. So, whether or not you want a company culture, you have one.
Get it in Writing
A good, healthy and working culture is reflected in the company’s written code of values. But what if you do not have a code of values or what if the one you have isn’t working?
Manifest your Destiny - Create a company manifesto. A manifesto is a public declaration of principles, policies and intentions. The word originates from the Latin word manifestus, which means clear and evident.
My Perception of a Manifesto - “We’re mad as heck and we’re not gonna take it anymore! And this is what we’re doing about it!” Think: Warrior spirit.
The Perfect Example - The Cluetrain Manifesto.
The Cluetrain Manifesto is a 95-point thesis published in 1999 that basically said and I paraphrase, “the broadcasted robotic voice of marketing is being subverted by us humans. Markets are conversations. With the Internet as our main vehicle, we will talk with each other and to other humans working in your ivory towers. These conversations will guide us in making decisions. It sure as heck won’t be your gilded-tounged PR and marketing departments.”
Side note - I had the honor of signing this document in 1999. If you actually read through it, you’ll think the authors are talking about today’s social media. They were light years ahead of their time.
Your manifesto - Unless you and your company are living your code of values, this statement has a tendency to sit idle in the company manual and on the wall in your office. A manifesto is about the verb and action; it’s about what you are doing. It’s about your inner warrior rising to the occasion.
I recommend engaging with a professional like Edgar Warriner of the Elk Advisors Group, to help you and your team build a company manifesto. While 95 points worked for the Cluetrain, it will not for your company. Keep it in the vicinity of 10 points.
Should you have a code of values and a manifesto? No. It should be one or the other. I like the manifesto because I believe that warriors get things done.
Warning! - Creating a manifesto means making a commitment. Through indifference, prospects, customers and coworkers have been conditioned to ignore a company’s code of values. Not living your company values? Ho hum. Who cares? Create and not follow a manifesto however, and you’ll look downright silly. You might as well, with one hand, make an L with your thumb and index finger and with your other hand point the index finger towards yourself.
The thing about changes in latitudes and tropical cultures is they are distinct and consistent. Once you have your code of values or manifesto in place, adhere to it relentlessly. Allow your distinctness to be consistent. Don’t let your culture waste away in Loserville.