Why is culture the most powerful thing that a CEO can use as a tool?
It’s quite simple.
When you look in the mirror, you see a physical reflection of who you are. Yet, you can’t see your thoughts and emotions.
You can only see your physical environment.
It’s a microcosm of what culture is actually about.
How we think and feel is very much what defines behaviour.
In other words, behaviour becomes an output of how we think and feel.
And culture is nothing but the alignment of the vision that we have, the purposes and organisations, as well as the principles that we agree with.
So that, as a unified whole, we can create a comprehensive and cohesive working environment. Why? Because the sum of the parts is greater than the whole. As creative human beings, we create our reality in many senses.
And when we all align to a thought process, to a way of working, to a common understanding, it becomes a very powerful tool.
This isn’t some kind of kumbaya mission statement that comes out of the Cosmic La-la.
It is about focus. Because the more that you focus your mind on a certain problem-solution that you need to resolve or purpose that you want to implement into the world, the more it manifests into physical reality.
And this is why culture is so powerful.
As a CEO, I love the idea of culture, and if we can align on how we think and feel, then it makes my job easier.
Ultimately, my job is to manage the health of the business. It’s to manage and mitigate any risk that comes our way.
And part of this is about human beings.
How do we connect as human beings? And how do we work together as human beings?
In Teraflow, this is about squads. :
- It’s about collaborative work.
- It’s about communication.
- It’s about openness.
- It’s about transparency.
And if I can build a culture that embeds those principles, that what we say we will do, we do, it makes my job a lot easier.
I don’t have HR issues. I don’t have disciplinaries. And I don’t wind up in front of the CCMA.
It acts as a tool that allows us to guide ourselves.
And it gives me the ability to steer the ship through very subtle levers.
What’s critical here is to understand the feedback loops that come into play. So like ourselves, culture is very subtle, because you can’t see what you think and feel.
You can certainly experience it within you, but I can’t tell what you’re thinking and feeling.
You can get a sense of what I’m thinking and feeling by my behaviour.
I’m calm, I’m relaxed, I’m talking, etc. and this is what culture really becomes about. It’s a very complex and subtle thing, because at the end of the day, business is about people and it’s about solving problems for people.
It’s a two-way exchange.
I’ll help solve this problem, we have expertise and you’ll incentivize and reward us. It’s how the system works.
So it’s all about people. not shareholder value and cash flow.
Indeed, those are very important to a variety of degrees.
But at the end of the day, you’ve got to build a sustainable business. And the most powerful way to build a sustainable business is through your people.
And this is why for us at Teraflow, it is very much around a people-first culture.
The question should always be: how do we focus on our people?
We need to caveat that idea of people-first so that it doesn’t get misconstrued. It needs to be people-first within the context of the wellbeing of the whole.
We’ve got to be building customer loyalty. We’ve got to be building customer value. How do we build a culture that’s highly engaged that builds customer loyalty and ultimately rewards you as an individual to express the potential and fine meaning and purpose?
When we start aligning our business structure to culture, that’s when we start getting exponential culture.