Today, more than at any other time, a company’s long-term survival requires a strong and adaptive organizational culture that inspires the loyalty of its customers, nurtures pride within its workforce and thrives on the dynamics of change.

Success means being able to take advantage of new technologies, such as the Internet, keeping pace with expanding knowledge at the cutting edge of your industry and adroitly changing your products and services to match the shifting needs of your stakeholders.

Great organizational cultures don’t just happen. When I use the term “great organizational cultures,” I am referring to organizations at all levels that consistently:

– Produce outstanding bottom-line results

– Attract, motivate and retain top talent

– Successfully adapt to changing conditions

While there are no perfect cultures, those that expect to be around for the long haul have to be strong in each of those three key areas.

Organizational success is a continual process of renewal. Leaders at every level must be involved routinely in assessing the strengths and weaknesses of the organization, weighing them against the six critical elements of high-performance workplace cultures.

Such crucial assessments will lead to specific strategies and initiatives that guide efforts continuously, at all levels, to produce outstanding bottom-line results, attract, motivate and retain talent and thrive on change. An essential key in this effort to build a highly effective culture, and subcultures, is knowing where to begin.

Twisting the Cube

No matter how extraordinary we think our culture is, the ultimate measure of its continued success is how well it serves the expectations of all its stakeholders. Developing the human power of the organization drives its financial capital. It is not by nurturing the bottom line that we build high-performance organizations. Rather, it is by nurturing our organizational cultures and subcultures that we build the bottom line.

To sustain success, people need to be excited by the challenge of strengthening their cultures by consistently assessing where they are today and where they want to go. You want champions of culture, in every leadership role, committed to creating outstanding places to work.

An enterprise can’t just declare what its culture is and expect its employees to embrace it. That makes culture a meaningless word. To build strong, adaptive cultures, associates have to feel viscerally motivated to be a key part of everything going on around them.

While there is no one-size-fits-all culture, you can increase the potential for people buying into the effort to develop a positive culture by communicating to them how they are integral parts of the desired changes and how they will be rewarded for their contributions and commitment.

But management often fails to communicate clearly how the changes will benefit the stakeholders as well as the organization. Because the stakeholders don’t understand their roles, they often cling to the status quo — even to their complaints. The stakeholders want to know, and have a right to be told, “When we get to this better place, here’s what’s in it for you.’’

We all want stakeholders to share our vision for the future. So it can be discouraging to return from a seminar, for example, all excited about the latest trend in building quality organizations and be received by your associates with stony faces and glazed eyes.

The problem is that when you come back and talk about these new ideas that supposedly will make everyone happier and make the enterprise more productive, the associates may hear something all-together different: “Management has found a new way to make us do something we don’t want to do.” Why? You didn’t involve their input as stakeholders in developing the proposed changes.

In many organizations today when things go wrong, someone suggests, “Let’s try this or that new model” — the so-called management flavor-of-the month approach.

It’s like trying to solve the Rubik’s Cube by just twisting on the cube and expecting it to be resolved.


It takes more than just twisting on the cube to solve the puzzle of building high performance organizational cultures.  This all-to-often approach simply tries to solve the puzzle of culture by twisting on the cube and hoping that all the pieces will come together, leading to dramatically improved results. But just as the puzzle isn’t solved that way, culture doesn’t work that way either.  Please join us in the coming weeks to learn about a proven model for building high performance workplace cultures and/or subcultures.