Making Company Culture Something Real

AN image of the question "Tell me about something you’ve invented” a the question Twilio CEO Jeff Lawson asks of job candidates wanting to join his company.

In the book, The CEO Test, which executive “aced the exam”? I would vote for Jeff Lawson, the CEO of Twilio, a cloud communications platform company. Why? Lawson allows for very little daylight between Twilio’s espoused values and how the company actual operates. Here is how Lawson pulls off that feat:

  • First, the company’s values were formulated based on broad input from current employees, not just as an exercise controlled by the c-suite.
  • Second, those values are carried forward to future employees by being front and center during the hiring and onboarding processes. The “invention” question above is but one example, given the goal of ensuring every employee likewise has a “builder mentality,” which is one of Twilio’s core values.
  • Third, quarterly and annual employee awards, as well as all promotions, involve honoring employees who embody the company’s values. The converse is that violating those values is cause for the firing of even high-performing “culture felons.”

Released today: episode #49 of “Dan Hill’s EQ Spotlight,” featuring Adam Bryant, the co-author, along with former Amgen CEO Kevin Sharer of The CEO Test: Master the Challenges That Make or Break All Leaders. Check out the audio link below to get oriented or click on https://newbooksnetwork.com/category/special-series/dan-hills-eq-spotlight to get to the new episode.

Image of Author Adam Bryant and the cover of his new book "The CEO Test: Master the Challenges that Make or Break All Leaders" For Dan Hill's EQ Spotlight podcast "The X-Factors That Set the Best Leaders Apart" episode 49

Adam Bryant is managing director of Merryck & Co, a leadership development and mentoring firm. Before that gig, Bryant was a journalist for 30 years, including at the New York Times where he authored the “Corner Office” column. In addition, he’s a frequent contributor on CNBC.

Dan Hill, PhD, is the president of Sensory Logic, Inc.

Why Walking the Talk Doesn’t Propel Culture Change

The typical large American company is estimated to spend $2,200 per employee, per year, trying to manage its corporate culture. That amount equals over $60 billion annually.

Like a three-car pile-up on a freeway, consider these statistics: two-thirds of all business mergers fail; under 30% of executives think their company manages its culture well; and only 10% of HR leaders would go that far. Walking the talk doesn’t work. Who needs to hear more about a company’s “values” or “mission statement”? Trying to instill behaviors based on high-minded rhetoric isn’t nearly enough. Instead, a company’s basic operating system requires change if progress is to be made. That move means changing the habits and routines—the practices—that both drive and reflect the company’s true culture. What is also needed? Executives must ditch overconfidence in favor of psychological flexibility, the competency Israeli thought leader Yuval Harari has called the single most important passport to success in the 21stcentury.

Released today: episode #46 of “Dan Hill’s EQ Spotlight,” featuring David G. White, Jr., the author of Disrupting Corporate Culture: How Cognitive Science Alters Accepted Beliefs about Culture and Culture Change and Its Impact on Leaders and Change AgentsCheck out the audio link below to get oriented or click on the image below to go directly to the new episode.

Image of the author, David G. White Jr's and the cover of his book "Disrupting Corporate Culture" for Dan Hill's EQ Spotlight Podcast episode 46, entitled "You are What You Do"

David G. White, Jr. is cognitive anthropologist working with organizations on culture, change, and leadership issues. He’s the co-founder of Ontos Global, a boutique consulting firm. David previously held leadership roles at Microsoft, Mercer, and IBM; and is also a professional jazz musician with 7 CDs.

Dan Hill, PhD, is the president of Sensory Logic, Inc.