High Performance Corporate Culture – 5 Genius Steps to Make it Happen

Read time 4 minutes

Platinum Manufacturing, a $25 million company in 2004, was positioning itself for growth. It’s market opportunities were expanding.  It had a robust strategic plan.

But the inertia in its culture was preventing the strategy from being implemented.

So Jim Collins, the recently appointed president of Platinum decided he needed to “unfreeze” the culture before the company died of hypothermia.

Here’s Jim first Genius moves:

  • He identified his key formal and informal leaders.
  • He pulled them together, outlined the situation, laid out the consequences of doing nothing and asked the formal and informal leaders if they would join with him to change the company’s culture.
  • To a person, they said absolutely, “Yes!”

Even through this Great Disruption, Platinum is holding its own and already showing signs of growth. They have only laid off clearly identified non-performers.

In the early 2000’s people at Platinum would gossip about the “dis-ease” that was infecting the company, even though they had good talent. There was a strategic plan but it was just not being executed.  People were mostly disengaged, unaligned and sloppy.

People were argumentative, unhappy and antagonistic toward management. They were stuck. Basically, the culture was broken.

From 2004 when Jim “took the bull by the horns” Platinum has become a completely different place.

Shipping manager, George Lencioni “Now we have a culture of prideful performance that makes this an effective, enjoyable place to work.”

What changed?

  • Jim communicated a possible future for its people (a vision and mission).
  • He first Showed them how to they could get there and what was in for them to get on board. He also clearly spelled out a bleak future is they resisted.
  • Then he Focused them with a system of company core values (expected cultural behaviors).
  • Then he Facilitated them through their stuck points and resistances.
  • Then he started Delegating to empower people to move forward on their defined initiatives.

In the process the lowest, most negative employees scattered like rats abandoning a sinking ship.

Jim’s 5 Genius Steps to Changing Platinum’s Culture:

1. Flag and Show the critical impact of culture on profitability and business growth and on the company’s capacity for competitive intelligence.

  • Jim knew it had to start with him as the CEO — the chief cook and communicator of the culture.

2. Find out what is “really going on.” Informal and formal leaders are in the trenches. They know what’s “really going on.” They must be enrolled, engaged, aligned and motivated to make the changes.

3. Design, define and develop the culture. Define a vision  (this is where we want to go) for the ideal environment with strong, simple core values that will take the company there.

4. Define a set of action plans – the mission (this is how we’re going to get there) and get lots of people and teams involved.

  • Engage and collaborate with the informal and formal leaders about what needs to change about the culture. Hash out an explicit strategy for making the changes happen. This plan has to include the What, Why, How and Imagine If …ways to make values an integral part of the business strategies.
  • If the culture says “to be the customer” then there must be specific behavioral actions clearly spelled out to achieve this goal.
  • Action plans must include ways to help people develop the competencies they’ll need to develop to make the new culture operational.

5. Define and Measure What A Good Job Looks Like.

  • Hold people accountable for the expected behaviors that have been defined for the new cultural codes. 
  • Recognize and congratulate people for their achievements in visible, concrete ways.
  • Hire, promote, and reward people who exhibit the values.
  • Constantly monitor decisions so they are in line with the values, vision and mission of the cultural renovation.