Tuesday, September 13, 2011

BIG’s Blog: Culture Is the Topic Again

Last week, I wrote a blog on the importance of culture in organizations in general and the fund raising groups of nonprofit organizations in particular. Then last Friday, the Harvard Business Review’s Management Tip of the Day addressed 3 Steps to Influence Culture.

First of all, it is not a coincidence that you are hearing more and more about the importance of “culture” within organizations. Its impact has been documented over and over again by the best graduate business schools in the world (including Harvard) as they do case studies on the best companies and organizations. Look at the rising and dominant commercial companies such as Google, Apple, Southwest Airlines, and Netflix. They are customer-focused and it comes through in all aspects of how they do business.

And when commercial companies that sell products to survive start to lose market share and need to be rescued--think General Motors--what is one of the first things they focus on getting back to? You guessed it, their customer-focused culture.

Customer-focused translates into donor-focused in fund raising.

As the article by Ron Ashkenas states, “Culture is not a goal, but an outcome of a collective set of behaviors.” They go on to say that instead of mandating behavior, influence it to shape your organization’s culture with three steps.

  • Convey your vision. Define your aspirations. What are the most critical behaviors that characterize the culture you want to create?
  • Demonstrate how new behaviors can help the organization. Nothing reinforces behaviors more than success. Work with your team to apply your ideal behaviors to a specific project that needs improving.
  • Integrate the behaviors into the HR processes. People tend to do what’s measured and rewarded. Use the desired behaviors as criteria for hiring and promoting.
The last point is critical and also points up the importance of having HR buy-in to the culture creating and nurturing process.


Welcome to BIG’s Blog and yes, by all means forward our blog to your friends and co-workers.

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