Research: Creating a Culture

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In recent research conducted by Accenture, the following factors were given as the most important when it comes to the all-important task of building a corporate culture. These are given in rank order of importance.

  1. Behaviour modelled by management
  2. What leaders pay attention to, model and control
  3. Performance and promotion systems
  4. Criteria used for selection, retention and termination
  5. Leaders’ reactions to critical incidents and crises that threaten survival and test the values of the organization
  6. The organization’s formal and informal design and structure
  7. Systems, policies and procedures that determine how work is done
  8. Stories and legends about key people that are told throughout the organization
  9. Ceremonies (company celebrations, awards, rites of passage or advancement)
  10. Formal statements of philosophy, principles and values

There is a lot in this list that is very interesting, and the research is based on interviews with 65 companies.

I’d be willing to bet that all of those companies are based in developed countries, and that no more than one or two are run by people of colour. It leads me to think that the survey instruments they have devised are less than useful for Caribbean companies, and would need to be modified before use.

Read the complete report entitled “Creating a Corporate Culture that Drives Greater Financial Returns and High Performance”.

The Making of an Expert

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From time to time on this blog I have written about the need for professionals to commit themselves to mastery, as a way of expressing a love for what one does, and as a way of becoming very, very skilled.

Then, along comes an excellent article in Harvard Business Review that makes the case that research is showing that an expert is made, and not born, even in the case of a Mozart or a Jordan.

The article is well worth reading, and gives hope to those of us who remember the old power were taught as kids:

The heights of great men reached and kept,
Were not attained by sudden flight
But they, while their companions slept
Were toiling upwards through the night.

— Winston Churchill

I strongly recommend the article — available for about US$4 from the Harvard Business Review site.

It’s message is important, and it is urgent, as it counters the dis-empowering thinking that what you are born with is the absolute and essential ingredient to any kind of success.

HR Trends #1a — Diversity

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(Also posted on the CaribHRForum discussion list)

Imagine the setting of a corporate meeting room, and a critical point in the meeting when a CEO turns to the VP HR, looks them dead in the eye and says:

CEO Question:
We need a diverse corporate culture. How do we go about building one?

VP HR: I’ll have a plan to discuss with you in a couple of days.

In the plan presented, the VP HR (who hopefully has been thinking about this for some time,) has laid out the following:

  1. Based on the strategy we are following, what are our 10-20 year goals?
    If we don’t have any, then diversity is a moot point because it’s a capability that cannot be built today, but only years in the future.
  2. In what way does it need to be diverse?
    Does it need to be more diverse than our society at large? If so, in what ways? Here are some examples: ethnicity, age, gender, education, sexual orientation, religious background, native language, class, etc.

    If we are looking to sell religious icons to people from different faiths, we had better hire people who understand those faiths.

    If we are looking to have a very creative workforce, we had better pay attention to those studies that say that tolerance and creativity go hand in hand. Our hiring must be flexible enough to attract people of all backgrounds.

    We will need to define the new target population that we want to have in our workforce, and compare it to what we have today.

  3. How do we get there?
    There are a few levers that we have to play with.
    • One is that we change the way that we hire. We can specifically tune our outreach efforts to bring in more people with different backgrounds. This is relatively easy to do.
    • The second lever to use is a change in the corporate culture. This is particularly hard to do.
    • There are several angles to take at the same time when creating a cultural intervention:
    • — authentic leadership by example
    • — performance management
    • — public events
    • — large group seminars
    • — personal coaching

We can design a culture that will help us to attract the right kinds of people, giving us whatever kind of diversity we want.

Voting for Music

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The email below just came to me from Boom Networking in relation to the party this weekend. This has GOT to be the first party I have ever attended that asked me what music I wanted to hear several days ahead of time!

WICKED! (in the good way…)


We figured that you are already in a voting mood. We believe that you should always get what you want so we will “play what you say!”

Get ready to hear the music you want at SQUISH 3
This Saturday, September 8th at the Royal Jamaica Yacht Club
9:00 p.m. until we say stop!

Vote for the music you want to hear!

(if you can’t click on that link, just go to http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.aspx?sm=ePk_2bGlnesewWG7WSQXxMlQ_3d_3d

Tickets are $3,500 all inclusive and are available from the usual suspects!

And of course we will have limited registration for TRIBE Carnival 2008

Caribbean CRM and Facebook

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Here is the genesis of new possibility…

In an earlier post, I mentioned the idea that doing CRM properly here in the region would benefit from a way of finding out who are the people in a prospect’s network.

Funnily enough, I am discovering that Facebook is precisely and exactly the right solution to the problem of finding out who is in one’s network. Here in the Caribbean, this equates to opportunity, as everything important is done through “who you know” and for the first time, you can find a LOT of people that are known and trusted by each other without asking them directly.

I am amazed that no-one seems to have taken advantage of this in any way that I can see.

Amazed.

But I am sure it’s just a matter of time before someone sees Facebook as more than just a cute application, and an addictive pastime, and starts using it to get into the world of influential people.

Actually, maybe the folks over at Boom Networking may have gotten the right idea. They have opened up a page on Facebook to advertise their next event this weekend. If I weren’t on Facebook, I wouldn’t have heard about it, and I have been trying to attend one of their events for the longest time. (Once again, I’ll be missing out, too.)

Stay tuned for more on this topic.

HR Trends #1

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Recently, Framework Consulting did a survey of the participants in CaribHRForum, an online discussion group that we sponsor.

(The results can be obtained by sending email to hrsurvey2007@aweber.com, and then following the instructions in the confirmation email.)

One of the results that came out clearly was an interest in following the most recent HR Trends.

I imagine that this has something to do with wanting to stay current and up to date with what is happening in the field. At times, this is not too difficult to do — just watch what is happening in a Developed Country in the HR field.

Yet, on another level we know that most HR products and services just cannot be imported into Jamaica wholesale. Instead, they require customization. Some can’t work at all.

Perhaps the way to think about this issue of emerging trends is to not focus on the foreign trend, but instead to think about the kinds of questions that CEO’s and MD’s might put to HR professionals in the future. How would an HR professional respond if asked for example, to build a diverse workforce?

I am going to try to ask and answer some of these questions on this blog, and see where the answers lead.

Forward-Thinking Cultures

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An interesting article in the Jul-Aug Harvard Business Review describes how countries that are more “forward-thinking” have achieved better results in measures such as GDP per capita and levels of innovativeness, happiness, confidence, and competitiveness.

In the article, “forward-thinking” is defined as the extent to which a culture encourages and rewards such behavior as delaying gratification, planning, and investing in the future.

While the study was confined to countries, I can imagine that it also applies to companies.

In the Framework approach to strategic planning, we use a method of scenario-generation that looks 20-30 years out into the future. This approach is described in the August issue of FirstCuts in more detail — Issue 14.0 which is available at the Framework Consulting website.

Essentially I think this article is backing the idea of taking a very long view of things, which we endorse.