Strong Cultures Perform Better

I like this brief report from some McKinsey consultants (who have written a pretty good book too). The first conclusion in the study is one that is not new, but still bears repeating: culture matters. I love this selection of quotes they choose:

“Fixing culture is the most critical − and the most difficult − part of a corporate transformation… In the end, management doesn’t change culture. Management invites the workforce itself to change the culture.” Lou Gerstner, IBM

“The soft stuff − people’s beliefs and behaviors − is at least as important as hard stuff. Making changes in strategy or structure by itself takes a company only so far.” Larry Bossidy, AlliedSignal

“A company can boost productivity by restructuring, removing bureaucracy and downsizing, but it cannot sustain high productivity without culture change.” Jack Welch, GE

“Our organization is our strategy.” Sir John Browne, BP

“Culture and capability is the only source of sustainable corporate advantage.” Dave Roberts, Barclays

“Culture and values and how people behave …I’ve heard people refer to it as ‘the soft stuff’ – they often underestimate its importance. The soft stuff is actually the hard stuff.” Carly Fiorina, Hewlett-Packard

“A great company needs a really rock solid culture that stands up to bad times” Tom Siebel, Siebel Systems

“In the end, whether or not you have a values-driven culture is what makes you a winner or a loser.” Sam Palmisano, IBM

“Having the right culture is a critical element of building a business of any sort.” Steve Markel, Markel Corp

“One of the first things I did as CEO was take senior leadership through a series of sessions to develop and common set of values and make sure they were understood and constantly reinforced. We then asked 40,000 employees for input and got incredible feedback, which we incorporated. It was a transformation process. ” Bruce Nelson, Office Depot

Of course quotes by themselves don't pack too much punch, so I also like that they have data that links a strong performance culture to better financial results. Yeah, they're not just making this stuff up.

So you want a stronger culture? Then you need to fix management.

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