Some organizations grow and then deal with the new cultural dynamic later. Others decide to be prepared by creating a culture that acts as a foundation for future growth.
If you want to grow your organization the two things you have to do are: 1) create a culture to support the growth, and 2) put the infrastructure in place to accommodate the growth.
Notice there are two items here. And, they’re not mutually exclusive. You have to have both. If you’ve ever worked at an organization that skipped either of these steps, you know eventually you can’t avoid them.
Without these two pieces in place you can still succeed, but only so much. Having these two pieces in place you’re better prepared to handle the inevitable: challenges, changes, and the demand for innovatation.
How Do You Know Whether Your Culture is Prepared for Growth?
Bottom line: A company’s culture influences results. Growing takes results. Defining the culture you already in place is step one. Figure out where you stand today. What’s your current reality. Next, you have to figure out whether your culture is your biggest asset or weakness when it comes to growth. Every organization, even small ones, have a culture that either helps or harms them.
Determining your culture doesn’t have to be complex. To keep things simple, for now, here are few easy ways to tell whether you have the right culture for growth.
A culture prepared for growth has a…
- Collaborative spirit that’s driven by the need to do what’s best for customers VERSUS politics and conflict dominate whenever you try to push things forward.
- Character-based leadership who draw out the best from their people and deliver consistent results VERSUS just being a dream team on paper.
- Constant feedback loops that drive innovation VERSUS a fear of change and bureaucracy which blocks the disruption of the established.
- Mentorship program that’s clearly defined in order to expand the autonomy VERSUS managers finding a way to insert themselves into the “approval” process and always being the hero.
- Strengths-based approach to promoting individuals to management VERSUS a hierarchy that has a default manager with generalized knowledge.
Healthy Culture Starts With a Design
To lay the right foundation, you have to “design” your company instead of build it. Tom Watson, founder of IBM, built his empire this way. He never set out to grow the company. He set out make real the company he already had in his head. It was already well-form in his head, he just had to make it reality.
Having a defined culture from the beginning is crucial to your success. Granted, when you first start your company, or are trying to grow it you need to have more customers, and they need to give you money (or attend your seminar, or whatever your success metric).
Commit Your Culture Design to Paper to Prepare for Growth
Your challenge today is to first to define where your organization is today. Do you have a culture which will act as a firm foundation for high growth? If not, why not? Second, write down the design of the culture you wish existed. Yes, write it down. The act of writing your company culture goals clearly will help turn them into reality.
Photo credit: by schipulites