Culture as a Competitive Advantage

This week I want to talk about culture and competitive advantage. Arlene Dickinson from Dragon’s Den fame says “Most competitive advantage is culture. People are powerful companies aren’t.” What is the culture in your organization? Does it allow people to be at their best or are they trapped in a world that says this is the way it is around here?

Patrick Lencioni, who wrote ‘The Five Dysfunctions of a Team’ says a healthy culture in an organization is just as important as getting the strategy right and way more difficult to do. What does a healthy culture look like?  A report prepared for the Workplace Health Strategies Bureau, Health Canada, by the Graham Lowe Group Inc. cited worker responses to a survey to answer that question. The employees responded with job characteristics that included; trust employer to treat me fairly, treated with respect, safe work environment, good communication, job allows work life balance, freedom to decide how to do work, and friendly and helpful co-workers. If your employees would say that I commend you.

So it isn’t just about good health care benefits and encouraging employees to exercise. That is just superficial change. What we really need to move towards a healthy culture is transformational change, a much harder thing to implement. The shift to a new culture and different work systems takes time – easily 3 to 5 years, and it happens one step, one attitude, at a time. I would start by reading that report by the Graham Lowe Group,  Healthy Workplace Strategies: Creating Change and Achieving Results.

The bottom line is culture eats strategy for breakfast. Those organizations that are really serious about productivity need to encourage and sustain a healthy culture that focuses on continuous improvement. After all according to Patrick Lencioni healthy organizations get smarter over time but that doesn’t necessarily happen in reverse.

Productivity is a measure of how much – work, time, effort, money, or energy – you have to put into something to get the desired outcome. For more tips and tools on how to get more productive please visit Blue Collar Consulting Inc. at http://www.bluecollarconsulting.ca/.

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About Janet, doing it better.

I grew up and still reside in Northern Alberta. While I have numerous interests I am passionate about the Peace River region, its innovation, its people, and the creative spirit that envelopes us all.

Posted on December 7, 2011, in Business Productivity, employee performance, productivity tools, workplace culture and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. A thing I might add to this excellent blog, Janet, is that many owners/managers think that their company culture is what “just happens”, with them being kind of bystanders in the process. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

    In fact, I would say that proactively fostering/developing a company culture of quality, safety and high productivity is one of the most important responsibilities of a company’s top management. People look to their leaders on how to think about these matters, so if the company culture is off the rails, leaders need to look in a mirror first as they try to determine the root cause. What people are looking for is leaders who ‘walk the talk’.

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