“Once a superior service delivery system and an appropriate service concept have been created, no other component is more crucial to the long term efficiency of the service organization than its culture and philosophy.” – Richard Normann
Revisiting the wise and visionary words of Richard Normann that he wrote in his classic book Service Management: Strategy and Leadership in Service Business.
Richard was my teacher (from his books) as I started to understand the human dimension of People at work. That invisible dimension coloring how we interact together to accomplish the mission of the organization. What inspires us, what engages us, what binds us together.
We tend to get caught up exclusively focusing on the service product and its delivery systems and we forget about the powerful binding force of culture. A force that informs our behaviors and actions. It is emotionally based. The emotional side of the work we do.
We’ve been conditioned to eschew emotion at work. The focus is virtually on the rational side of business. Traditional (and still dominant) efforts to shape culture via value statements are just that, statements (slogans) that have a poor track record of influencing the operating fabric of an organization, where work and human interaction takes place.
It’s needed more than ever before as it is the (largely untapped) source of organizational agility, speed, resilience, and productivity. Yes, productivity of People at work, individually and collectively, as it drives human engagement, satisfaction (happiness), trust, and frictionless collaboration.
Think about your current situation. What is the level of human engagement where you work? Is there friction between parties that need to work together to accomplish mission and/or program objectives?
The friction is invisible. It is unseen waste that slows down the organizational machinery costing excessive amounts of time and money. In a sense, culture is a LEANING mechanism, eliminating this unseen waste of poor human engagement and collaboration.
In a webinar CULTURE | Why It Matters and What You Can Do About It held on November 28, 2018 and sponsored by the Business Relationship Management Institute, Terri Mayes and I laid out a simplified view of Culture composed of Trust, Community, and Meaning.
Trust is a requisite condition driving human engagement and collaboration. Behaviors that shape Trust are emotional safety, honesty, transparency, and integrity. These need to be coincident with competency. You need to be able to do what you say you can do. It results from the combo of Warmth and Competence. You need both to shape Trust.
Once the foundation of Trust is established and maintained (as an organizational habit), People will naturally engage and collaborate as a Community. Why? It is in our DNA, to survive as a community. Humans are social beings and survive as a group (a pack). Behaviors that foster a sense of Community (or belonging) include equality, acceptance, respect, caring, and empathy.
But to what end? Meaning fuels the sense of direction for the Community, its shared identity (purpose) that is emotionally based. It is grounded in social good beyond rationally stated objectives. This fuels human passion, thought, and action. The sense that you belong to a Community serving something larger than yourself.
What if it were common practice to be overt (purposeful) in shaping Trust, Community, and Meaning around any given organizational endeavor? For example, take any program you are working on right now. What if you were purposeful in shaping a program culture of Trust, Community, and Meaning? It would be incredibly powerful and, in my experience, is foreign to traditional program and organizational change practice.
Yes, this is something new, purposefly shaping a culture that instills a sense of Trust, Community, and Meaning. I say try it.
In a study conducted by Duke University published in 2016, executives across the globe consider culture as the numero uno value driver but only 15% of executives polled and interviewed believe they have a high performing culture.
The potential is HUGE.
CULTURE. Learn about it. Act on it. Tap into its potential.