Top 40 Business Tips #27: Build an Inclusive Culture

Last Updated Jan 5, 2011 6:35 PM EST

Podcast

Nilofer Merchant
(10 minutes 35) A lot of companies struggle under a negative culture of mistrust, bureaucracy and ego. Unfortunately most of these companies kid themselves that they have a culture of energy, innovation and respect!

I've never been a fan of those three or four line "company values" statements that people often have emblazoned on the reverse side of their security pass. If you have to tell people how to behave you have a problem. It's always better to demonstrate how to behave.

One place that seems to have the right attitude is the Seattle Fish Market. Stephen Lundin visited there before developing the Fish! philosophy which embraces four elements:

  • Play
  • Make Their Day
  • Be There
  • Choose Your Attitude
The Fish! approach has lots of supporters and a few detractors. Personally I'm more taken with the approach advocated by Nilofer Merchant from Rubicon Consulting. She says debate in a company is important, provided you lay a few grounds rules to ensure discussions are healthy.

Then, as a boss, you need to ensure you don't always come up with the answers --- put your ego to one side and let others reach the conclusions. You'll probably have a better outcome.

Finally, push more decision making responsibility down the organisation, closer to the customer. Nilofer even has a neat way of ensuring those decisions are aligned to the strategy --- you'll have to listen to the podcast to find out how to do that!

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