Eliot recently spent 3 days walking 60 miles for the Susan G. Komen foundation, and as usual, came home with a bunch of ideas for what your business can learn from the experience. In this episode, we’ll talk about company culture, and what you can learn by staring at people’s backs for 60 miles.
Why is that important for business?
There are many important lessons to be learned from an organization like the Susan G Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. Chief among them is how to create a culture that engages people, regardless of their “learning style”. Wherever you looked, you were inside the “pink bubble” and you couldn’t avoid their mission, their impact, and why people cared so deeply about the cause. Even if your mission isn’t to cure cancer, you can still learn these lessons by helping to tie people to your mission.
A big part of making that happen is by weaving new people – whether they be staff or clients – into the fabric of your business’ culture. You do this by encouraging:
- A sense of belonging. This can be as simple as making sure that new people have someone to eat with.
- Some sort of status recognition and some layer of healthy competition. This needs to call to a higher level of performance in the areas you want to reinforce.
- Connection – This can include a connection to the story or mission, and a connection to the people and why they are at your business, and why they care.
If an organization struggles to weave people into their bubble, it may be because they don’t have a very well-defined “thing” to get behind or rally around. In terms of culture, the 5 most powerful words are “that’s not who we are”. Part of culture is being okay that dogs will hear your particular whistle and cats won’t.
The most important thing is having evangelists in your crowd – frontline people who don’t have management titles – to be enthusiastic about the cultural characteristics that you most want to highlight. You have to find a way to nurture, encourage, and reward that kind of evangelizing.
Lastly, making people feel like they are an integral part of what you are building is key. This is the “Ikea Effect” where people place higher value on what you have a role in building. This is when labour leads to love. Finding ways for your people to grapple with the problems that you want your organization to solve is a really beautiful way to engage them.
The Ikea Effect: When Labour Leads to Love. https://www.hbs.edu/faculty/Publication%20Files/11-091.pdf
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