World Domination Comes From The Right Culture

There’s the old saying that customers will never love a company until the employees love it too. I’d like to think that a lot of The Brand Agency’s success is due to our strong culture and single minded focus on our mission – Chase Greatness.

While business strategy is important, what was cemented in my mind through my recent visit to Silicon Valley as part of the STW Group’s knowledge finding trip, is that to be a high performing organisation, culture is the most important thing.

While Silicon Valley is full of very successful companies, there are also those that aren’t so successful. The one thing that separates the cream from the milk is culture.

By being voted best place to work in America four times in a row, Google is obviously getting something right. But admittedly generating revenue of over $65 Billion(USD) in 2014 helps you invest in the culture of your organisation.

All the organisations I visited have a mission that everyone in the company knows, understands and makes happen. Apparently, each of Google’s 50,000 employees in 50 countries can state Google’s mission. How many people in your organisation can do the same?

But their missions aren’t just about selling more product, they are about changing the world. A bit American you may think, but it works.

"In our industry, where business now runs at the speed of sound, staff need to be motivated and prepared to work outside normal hours, to give that little bit extra."

Google want’s to ‘Organise the world’s information and make it universally accessible and informative’. Yahoo, on the other hand strives to be ‘Your indispensable guide to all the digital information used in the world’. At first sight, the mission of Xero, a start-up accountancy software company, which also happens to be one of the world’s most innovative growth companies is relatively benign: ‘To help small businesses become more successful’. But it is underpinned by the belief that by doing this they help improve the economies of the world. And you know what, it really does. According to Forbes Magazine there are 27 million small businesses in the US, and they account for 60 to 80 per cent of all jobs.

By having a mission that all employees know and are focussed on helps companies be productive in the right ways. In our industry, where business now runs at the speed of sound, staff need to be motivated and prepared to work outside normal hours, to give that little bit extra. They also need to be allowed to fail, but to fail quickly and learn from it.

By having a culture that empowers people, they are more likely to want to put in that extra effort. Google’s view is that they would be an average tech company without their culture. They see mission, transparency and voice as the most important things that drives their culture.

Amazingly, they get over two million resumes every year, what they look for are problem solving, role related knowledge, leadership and ‘Googlyness’, they define this as simply someone you would find interesting to sit next to on a plane.

Everyone at Google gets to allocate 20% of their time to projects not directly associated with their role. Gmail was a 20% project. Again, that’s easy to do when you are so successful, but this has been a core part of their approach even before they were.

Apparently, when anyone starts at Google they put on weight due to the choice, quality and quantity of food on the campus. I can back this up with the kilo I put on after just one day. So as a responsible employer, Google decided to make the plates smaller to help people manage their portions. The result. Uproar. Staff were disgusted that it had happened. Google quickly put the big plates back, but still offered the smaller plates. Over time, staff used the small plates and provided positive feedback on how Google was thinking about their well-being.

Yes, I know the Perth communications industry isn’t Silicon Valley. I’m not suggesting we all ‘deep dive’ on this information or ‘double click on it later’, some of the quality terms I learnt over there, but to me the moral of this story is to give employees a voice, be true to your mission and be transparent in what you are going to do and maybe, we can also take over the world.

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