It’s Not About The Foosball
Let’s take a moment to define what a ‘strong culture’ means. Here’s what it doesn’t mean:
- Foosball tables and happy hours
- Free food
- One big party
- All fun, all the time
- A culture just like Zappos, Netflix, JetBlue, Google or anyone else
A strong culture is all about alignment. Alignment of everything! From the vision you’re all trying to realize and the values that actually dictate team member behaviors, to the go-to-market strategy and objectives, to the way you measure and reward performance – all must be aligned. A strong culture is the environment created through this alignment – it’s like the water to a fish. You can’t necessarily point to it, but you can feel it – and observe it – all around you.
One of the better (and simpler) models I’ve seen for cultural alignment was developed by Marvin Bower, founder of McKinsey & Co.:
It’s the alignment between the company’s values, objectives, strategy, tactics and controls that ultimately create a strong, high-functioning environment in support of the company’s vision/mission.