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Culture is Your Competitive Advantage

Company Culture in DSM USA

November 1, 2019

Jim Collins in his classic work, “Good to Great,” speaks of momentum in organizations with the metaphor of a flywheel. The idea is that every day in a great company each team member comes to work and gives the flywheel a turn. Over time the flywheel turns at an ever-increasing speed because of the individual spins. 

According to Collins, great companies have minimal dysfunction, clear objectives, consistent leadership and a cultural fit of each team member. When these characteristics are prevalent, it frees each team member to work the flywheel.

Our purpose here is to focus on the cultural aspect of an organization.  Let’s begin with a working definition:

Culture is a summation of how people within an organization interact with each other and work together.

Understanding Your Company’s Culture

Every company has a culture. Some companies work hard to find vocabulary and stories that work to define this foundation. Other organizations allow the culture to form informally through behavioral nuance.

I have worked in both types of organizations, including the unique opportunity to create a culture from scratch. The premise I know and believe is that time invested in “culture work” is a necessity to remain competitive.

Culture helps retain team members. We are all looking for meaning and purpose in our work.   This includes meaningful relationships with our coworkers. Relationships survive and thrive when the foundation is stable, secure and value driven. Leadership that promotes a consistent environment will reap the reward of loyal productive team members.

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Culture is necessary for effective marketing and sales. We are in a business environment that is emphasizing the customer experience. It is very difficult for someone to duplicate a positive experience that may surround a business deal. The experience could be viewed as artificial if it is not grounded in the heart and soul of an organization and its work team. If we truly want repeat sales from existing clients and customers our culture truly becomes a competitive advantage!

Culture + Creativity

Culture is also a precursor to creativity. You would probably agree that we are all just one creative idea away from a breakout year! Top line revenue growth requires our creative best.  When we have to give time and attention to the dysfunction in our workplace, it will be very difficult to create. 

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