I am just back from the inaugural Printing Hub conference this past week – a great chance to get an outside perspective on business, and to look at the “big picture” instead of the day-to-day. There were several great presentations, and two that stood out with some insight on company culture.
Jay Wilkinson from Firespring spoke first on the importance of culture within a business. Jay emphasized the role that “values” have within an organization and how the values that you identify and practice are ones that you must hire for as well. Just because a prospect may have all the right education and experience, if they are not a fit to the values, do not make the hire!
Later in the conference we were entertained with the insight of Jeff Hayzlett, a New York Times bestselling writer and former Chief Marketing Officer for Kodak. I have heard Jeff speak in the past, so I was ready for a dynamic talk that stressed the need for being willing to break from the norm and be a “clock changer.” Success often times requires risk, while encouraging people in your organization to also challenge the concept that “this is the way we do things because it is always the way we have done it.”
Both Jay and Jeff have been inspirations for those around them and have built successful organizations. At the same time, no two organizations are alike and each leader is different as well. While I do not consider myself to be as dynamic as either of these leaders, I do know that the culture of CL Graphics is unique and very much in line with my own traits and beliefs. We have a variety of traditions that are shared with new employees over time (ask us about the first Friday tradition sometime), and the concept of open book meetings is standard – I will regularly share our financials with the whole company. I also make a point of openly discussing trends within the industry along with posting of relevant articles or research.
No doubt that we have a strong work ethic with a no-nonsense approach – at the same time it is not uncommon for practical jokes to appear regularly – often at the expense of each other. Business can be a stressful endeavor – especially in a fast-paced production operation. At the same time, when we all spend as much time or even more with all those at work as compared to our own families, it is critical to be able to openly laugh or just plain enjoy the friendship of those you work with. For this I am thankful.
Culture does make a difference and it can at times be a delicate balance. One week it is strong with everyone on board, and the next – after some stressful times, you find yourself needing to put some extra effort into the relationships that make it all work. Often times it is that effort that truly makes a business succesful!