On Building Culture

Its quite possibly the most important aspect of any endeavor. Its the life blood of every organization, project or family.

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Culture is what matters

I have a strong opinion about how to get good work done. There are many other articles and stories about organizations only having success because the team they have created, but I’m not primarily focused on business here. I think the idea translates into any aspect of life where people can not act with total autonomy. Every successful sports team has the idea of team nailed down. Michael Jordan’s Bulls, Any of Lombardi’s Packers, Texas A&M football of the early 90’s, the Texas Rangers from 2010 & 2011. All of these teams had star players sure, but the common denominator was a sold out effort for team. Its the same thing with any business, video production, website development or iOS development. Its all working together.

Make failure so cheap no one is afraid to do it.

So the real issue is how to get your team on board rowing in the same direction. Here are a few ideas:

  • Set a high level goal and make it aware to all – Often people struggle when the end goal isn’t clearly stated because they can’t directly relate what they are doing to the main objective – and the success of the team.
  • Make a safe place to fail – Lets be honest, very rarely if ever is a success idea manifested with out countless iterations of failure. Failure is important. Very important. Let it happen and make it so cheap that no one is afraid to fail. At some point failing matters, but you can’t afford to have anyone be afraid to fail in the ideation process. No idea is best only in the mind of one person.
  • Mama doesn’t always know best – Just because you are the leader, do make mandates unless its essential. Be ok with not knowing. “I don’t know” is a perfectly suitable answer, but sometimes one that takes some humility to actually speak.
  • Service above all – In order for your team to succeed. Everyone needs to be on board, which means they aren’t looking for another job, find fulfillment in what they are working on and are getting paid enough. As a leader you need to be able to take on the grunt work as well. Everyone needs to know you have their best interest in mind above all else. Thats loyalty. Remember, people are giving their most valuable resource to you and your vision, their time. Let them do what they felt called to do. If its making videos, brand films whatever. Reward them with your sacrifice.
  • Be courageous – Don’t blow smoke. Be honest, do the hard things. People can see through the crap pretty easily. Reinforce the effort you set out to make in the first place. Reward people who accomplish them and help those who aren’t. You have to be able to do what no one else is willing to do. Be ok with taking care of your people even if it comes at great cost.
  • Be nice – Be the type of leader you would want to follow. There’s nothing worse than having a jerk for a boss. Sometimes this takes being willing to hear the things you don’t want to hear. Honest feedback is key.

If you are currently having a problem with someone on your team, make sure you’re doing all you can to produce the environment necessary for success. All people are different, but all people think they are the hero of their own story.

* Notice the New York Yankees weren’t mentioned, its also possible to attempt to buy championships, but as they prove, it doesn’t always work. Good teams beat great talent.

read - realistic expectations [/eightcolumns]