Roadblock #4: “We Don’t Have Different Agendas And Values That Restrict Our Ability To Grow” (Lesson 4)

 
 
You can have the world’s best business strategy, but if you don’t bring the organisation along on the journey, there may be problems along the way. Any time you look at changing the direction of the organisation or its value set, you need to actually make sure that you’re doing it right through the entire business.

Sticking To The Values Of Your Tribe

One of the natural phenomena that occur within any organisation that has a fair number of employees or members, a variety of departments, and various levels of management/hierarchy, is the formation of “tribes.”

Usually, they are based around their department, job duties and status within the organisation, but tribes can develop around shared ideas, values, common experiences and outside interests. It would be wonderful if 160 people could all be on the same page, but the research and development people on the second floor spend their days engaged in different activities than the salesperson out on the road. They’re probably also not cut from the same cloth, personality-wise.

If you’re not careful, instead of having one overall culture with smaller tribe cultures, those tribes evolve, and you end up with eight silo cultures and no over-arching one that unites the company.

I worked with an organisation a while ago that had this issue. They had one small, central urban office, but had many warehouses and facilities spread throughout the country in both urban and rural districts.

Despite the fact they were doing the same work, I’d almost never seen so many different cultures in one place. The centralised office had no idea what was going on in their production facilities or their warehouses.

The production facilities knew nothing about how the warehouses operated, and the warehouses felt like they were at the bottom of the food chain and ignored. There was also misplaced distrust between production facilities or between warehouses. The only thing everybody shared was the belief someone was out to get them.

Everybody saw themselves as a separate entity. Think about your place in the world. If I ask you, “Where do you live?” are you going to tell me the name of a city, a state, or a country? It’s very similar.

The city was their little tribe within their facility, the state was the facility itself and the country was the company as a whole. Technically, they belonged to all levels, but since there was no real culture created at the “country” level, they operated independently of one another.

When things went wrong, it would result in finger-pointing.

I sat down with the top management at their corporate office and explained their problem of cultural silos within the organisation. What do you think happened? Plenty of finger pointing.

The thing was, nobody was doing a bad job. They were all doing what they thought was right, but because there was no culture of communication the message wasn’t getting through.

It wasn’t an easy fix, but we developed systems to allow everybody who worked for the company—all of the members of the “country”—to understand their role in the bigger picture and instituted a framework for communication that has a cohesive effect and is still used there today.