Thursday, January 13, 2011

Take A Culture

When staff speak and understand the language of their organization’s culture, they know how to behave in the organization and what’s expected of them. How’s YOUR culture?

Founders of organizations can have a profound – and long lasting - effect on the organizations culture. But so can you, the leader. You, along with your counterparts, have an ability to hold onto that culture or to mold a brand new one.

A founder’s own values guide the building of the company. He/she has substantial influence on the values, norms, and standards of behavior that develop over time. That’s typically a good thing. But what happens once the founder is gone?

Creator and President of Wendy’s, Dave Thomas, resigned from his day-to-day operations in 1982. However, by 1985, several company business decisions and loss of brand awareness and organizational culture urged the new president to bring Thomas back into an active role with Wendy's. He began to visit franchises and promote his hardworking, “mop-bucket attitude” - something that hadn’t been seen since he left. New management just didn’t keep up with the successful culture of the organization.

Marty Sklar, former Vice Chairman and Principal Creative Executive at Walt Disney Imagineering, said, "From the beginning, starting with Walt Disney, we have had five things that make me proud to be part of this Company: high-quality products, optimism for the future, great storytelling, an emphasis on family entertainment and great talent, passion and dedication from our Cast Members." This has been the Disney culture from Walt, through the Michael Eisner years, and now with Bob Iger.

In the case of Wendy’s, new leadership allowed the culture to change - for the worse. With Disney, they recognized a good thing and stuck with it. A saying they have at Disney Traditions sums it up the best – “We don’t put people in Disney, we put Disney in people.” Do the same with your organization.

No comments: