A lot of leaders ask me what kind of culture they need in order to more effectively execute against their strategic plan—a “culture of getting shit done.” While there is no cookie-cutter approach to creating one, I can say that I have consistently found the following elements to be valued in cultures that routinely knock it out of the park.
A culture that values metrics. You don’t have to be all about numbers all the time, but if metrics are constantly “below the fold” in terms of what is valued internally, then you will find it hard to consistently exceed your three year strategic targets. My recent post comparing different “metrics systems” will give you sense of what I’m talking about here.
A culture that values learning. The only way the metrics part really works is if you don’t freak out every time someone misses one of their targets. Instead, you need to see any failure to hit the mark as an opportunity for learning. Didn’t get as many new members as you’d hoped? Cool, which of your assumptions turned out to be incorrect? What new dynamics in the industry might have contributed to that? Get excited to learn and improve, rather than getting mad and blaming people for not performing.
A culture that values transparency. Strong execution is rooted in good decision making, and making more things visible is a great way to improve decision making. Unfortunately, too many cultures are still rooted in the old-fashioned “knowledge is power” principle and haven’t built systems that make the basic workings and progress of the organization visible to everyone.
A culture that is aligned with your success drivers. Perhaps the primary reason for execution failure is what we call “culture friction.” Like needing real innovation to unlock new value for your members, but having a culture that punishes people when their experiments fail, needing to change quickly to keep up with changes in your industry, but having a culture that won’t fix things that are broken or stop things that are no longer adding value. You need to constantly identify and fix the culture friction.
That last one is the focus of our signature culture consulting project that we call “culture design.” If you haven’t been intentional about your culture up until now, it’s a focused project for making key culture changes that drive success. The first three are all integrated in to our priority-based execution system that we coach leaders and management teams to implement. If you’d like to learn more about either, just reach out via our website.