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Culture + Systems: The Success Foundation

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 Any business looking for deep and sustainable success has to build two things internally: a great culture and rock solid systems.

The two are mutually re-enforcing. A great culture is impossible without great systems. Few things are more toxic to a healthy workplace than operational inconsistencies. We need the mental and emotional safe space created by a consistent environment with consistent expectations.

At the same time, great systems that clearly exist for their own sake are 'dead letters'. They must be living, breathing parts of our businesses, that change and adapt to new realities. And they must exist to support cultures that value creativity, risk-taking (and an understanding of the role of failure within that), and high levels of entrepreneurial initiative.

The excellent article by Paul Alofs at Fast Company "8 Rules for Creating A Passionate Work Culture" hits a number of great points in creating the culture piece, but fails to address the role that consistent systems play in supporting that culture.

That said, there are a number of great points made here. Two stand out in particular:

  • Communicate. Great communication includes embedding conversations, (meetings, reviews, etc.) into the routines of your organization. A passionate culture thrives on good information. Open up the throttles if you want life here.
  • Create the space. This one is so often missed. The actual physical space you work in has an enormous impact on how vibrant and productive your organization is. Four constants impact the quality of a work culture: time, people, money, and space. The last one matters as much as any of the other 3, but is often ignored. Achieving a 'Great Performance' culture is impossible without attending to the quality of the space you are working in.

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