How Creative Leaders Grow The Cultures They Want

29 July 2015 | Prof. Nancy K. Napier presented me this book at a very right time. The tip on the back cover is both recommendation and question. “Many leaders undervalue the power of culture as a competitive advantage. Don’t make that mistake” – by Nancy K. Napier with the Gang.

This is one of few book that I was able to start at the first page and finish at the last page. Why? Simple: it is short. Every section is really as short as 2-page story. I love short story.

Unfortunately, one cannot go straight forward from beginning to end. The author asks you to take a rest after every chapter. Then think about what you have read, compare what you have read to what you have done, then plan what you are going to do, in fact to change. In my situation, these rests take more than expected. It is because I am lazy at reading. It takes time to observe what managements and corporations are doing with their culture. It takes more time to learn their lesson. OMG, this is accidentally “hear [read] it, see it, and do it”(p.49)liveculture

While highlighting the importance of culture she also asks “do you consider yourself a leader?” If your answer is “Yes,” then the author has some advices for you:

  • Be deliberate in the process and throughout the process
  • Stay focused on culture or you’ll lose it
  • Give the process time

 

 

13 comments

  1. […] “Company culture” doesn’t exist apart from the company itself: no company has a culture; every company is a culture. A startup is a team of people on a mission, and a good culture is just what that looks like on the inside. From the outside, everyone in your company should be different in the same way. On the inside, every individual should be sharply distinguished by her work. […]

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  2. This is one of few book that I was able to start at the first page and finish at the last page. Why? Simple: it is short. Every section is really as short as 2-page story. I love short story.

    Unfortunately, one cannot go straight forward from beginning to end. The author asks you to take a rest after every chapter. Then think about what you have read, compare what you have read to what you have done, then plan what you are going to do, in fact to change. In my situation, these rests take more than expected. It is because I am lazy at reading. It takes time to observe what managements and corporations are doing with their culture. It takes more time to learn their lesson. OMG, this is accidentally “hear [read] it, see it, and do it”(p.49).

    Like

  3. Shape the Culture p.43

    [Cultural is] very important, and most business people just miss it. It’s something that has to be continually invested in and which can be lost very quickly if you don’t keep integrity with it.

    Walter Robb,
    CEO, Whole Foods
    Boise State University, September 13, 2013

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  4. An example of leader’s concern about innovative culture.

    Logo of Sun Microsystem is on the back of Facebook

    Because of the limits of space and time, a lot of Silicon Valley companies don’t build new headquarters; they just take over the discarded offices of older firms, like hermit crabs. Facebook’s headquarters used to belong to Sun Microsystems, a onetime power-house of innovation that collapsed and was acquired by Oracle in 2009. When Facebook moved in, Zuckerberg made over the whole place, but he didn’t change the sign out front, he just turned it around and put Facebook on the other side. The old sign remains as a reminder of what happens when you take your eye off the ball.

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  5. [Page 32] Energy Balance is the extent to which a leader brings and encourages positive energy over negative.

    WhiteCloud CEO Bob Lokken, who monitors his organization’s culture very deliberately, describes the ‘PE (Positive Energy)’: “The mathematics properties of the formula also have dynamics that you get a bigger effect from reducing the negative than increasing the positive by the same amount; one negative person has a MUCH larger impact than one person’s positive impact.”

    Authors like Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence, and researchers Marcial Losade and Barbara Fredrickson, talk about the benefits of positive emotional atmospheres and cultures. A general ratio is 3:1, meaning that environments where three times as many positive emotions exit for every negative one, helps teams and organizations perform better.

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  6. Page 21: “Who do you play for?” “I play for the United States of America”. From Miracle on Ice, 1981.

    The story about how American Olympic hockey team won the gold medal in 1980 Olympic is typically interesting. It is absolutely great for a classroom illustration. I, however, love the other quite examples more. These are likely more simple and real.

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  7. “If you take your eye off culture and look away – even for a moment – you’ll lose it” by Don Kemper, Founder and CEO, Healthwise.

    When Brian Chesky, the CEO of Airbnb, asked an investor what his single greatest piece of advice for the organization was, he was a bit taken aback. Chesky expected advice about cash flow or executing strategy. But Peter Thiel, one of his major investors, replied, “Don’t f*** up the culture,” and then made it clear that he had invested in Airbnb largely because of the culture.

    On October 21, 2013, Chesky sent a letter to the entire Airbnb team recounting Thiel’s advice and discussing the importance of culture. In his letter, Chesky offered his own definition of culture as “simply a shared way of doing something with passion.” He stressed that culture was living out the core values in everything people did – from how people walked in the hallways, to how they sent emails, to how they worked together on projects. He wrote that breaking the values was “f***ing up the culture,” and he credited each and every employee with the power to do that. Later, Chesky posted a copy of the letter to his blog. It went viral.

    Management guru Peter Drucker said years ago, “culture eats strategy for breakfast.” While strategy is something that can be spoken and presented, culture is lived, and can be done in a deliberate, or unconscious way. It can be part of what brings in and keeps the best talent. If done well, it can be a hard thing to imitate, and thus can be a competitive advantage. And it starts with the leaders.

    — on page 4–

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