This is a rebroadcast of Episode 307.
Dr. Misner has used the expression “Culture Eats Strategy for Breakfast” a number of times, but he’s never gone into detail about how. Today’s podcast focuses on the importance of culture in business success.
Here are some important factors in a healthy organizational culture:
A great strategy keeps people in the game, but a great culture helps an organization win.
Brought to you by Networking Now.
Complete Transcript of BNI Podcast Episode 307 –
Hello everyone and welcome back to The Official BNI Podcast brought to you by NetworkingNow.com, which is the leading site on the net for networking downloadables. I am Priscilla Rice, and I am coming to you from Live Oak Recording Studio, which is in Berkeley, CA. I am joined on the phone today by the Founder and Chairman of BNI, Dr. Ivan Misner. Hello Ivan. How are you?
I am doing great this week, Priscilla. Thank you very much.
What are you going to share with us?
You know, I have talked a lot in a number of podcasts that culture eats strategy for breakfast and used tuhat expression a number of times. I have never really gotten into the detail of talking about how. How does culture eat strategy for breakfast. So that is what today’s podcast is going to be about.
I think this is particularly important. Not only for BNI businesses and where they live or their BNI chapter is. I think a lot of business schools talk about strategy and it tends to be their primary focus. Culture is really a lot less understood. Culture involves a variety of contributing factors including a blend of attitudes, beliefs, missions, philosophy- any momentum to help create and sustain a successful brand or organization.
Culture really affects how people within an organization interact. This is true not only for the macro approach of an organization but for the micro approach- the individual chapter of BNI as well as BNI as a worldwide organization.
I think culture is key for an organization’s longterm success. It’s the most important thing in an organization. It applies at all levels, from the top all the way down. There are a number of factors that I believe go into building a healthy organizational culture. That is what I want to talk about. I want to talk about what those are.
It starts with tradition. Tradition is what made the company what it is. They tell the world who they are as an organization by the tradition that they celebrate. One way for an organization to maintain the organizational culture and egos is to introduce and celebrate a variety of traditions. I think Disney, in particular, has been a master of this concept by training all new employees on the traditions of the organization. A strong tradition applied to an organization is one of the best ways to maintain a healthy organizational culture.
That is why when I train every Director and Director Consultant in BNI, we spend several hours just on BNI’s traditions. It is part of the core training that we do as an organization. If you take a look at the book, Givers Gain, one of the chapters of the book, Chapter 10, the BNI story, is about BNI’s traditions. It is really inculcated into the organization. It’s one of the things that nobody talks about in business school.
The second is mission. A burning mission can really give laser focus to an organization. The mission statement needs to be short and memorable. It needs to be sort of a rallying cry for people throughout the organization. One of the things I have learned running a business for almost 30 years is ignorance on fire is better than knowledge on ice. Getting employees and people in the organization excited is critical for the organizational success in literally any company.
The third is engagement to create amazing culture in an organization. Engagement. Collaboration encourages engagement. You want to get all levels of the organization involved. In BNI, we have engagement at all levels. We have something called the Franchise Adviser Board that is made up of key franchisees. We have the Founders’ Circle which is made up of stakeholders, Director Consultants. We have a Board of Advisers which is made up exclusively of BNI members to ensure engagement regarding policies that affect the organization. Globally, we also have the Executive Council which is made up of the key master franchisees of the company, the biggest countries.
Engagement within an organization can be really messy. When you have a lot of people engaged in decision making and policy making, it can be really messy. But when it is done correctly, it encourages collaboration.
The fourth is recognition. There are only two more. Recognition is second to the last. Years ago, Ken Blanchard got it right in the book he wrote, Two Minute Manager. He said to catch people doing something right. Catch them doing something partially right if it’s not perfect and recognize them publicly. Praise in public and redirect in private. Neutral words have never been spoken when it comes to building a positive organizational culture. Recognize and celebrate successes. I think that is really, really important.
The fifth point that I think really helps to create a healthy organizational culture is education. I have talked about this in podcasts and throughout BNI. Groups that really immerse and engage in a culture of learning are going to be the ones that are the most successful. They are the ones that are going to create the healthy organizational culture.
The more a company can integrate learning into the organizational ethos, the more they can prepare for change. But of course, I am singing to the choir because people listening to this are committed to education who sit and listen to the podcast or read the transcript. It is the people who don’t see or hear it and listen to the podcast that are not engaged in education.
So if you are a BNI member who is listening to this, as much as possible, get you chapter engaged. Get them listening to the podcast. One way to do that is to have a dialogue about the various podcasts. Those people who listen to it get to talk and those who didn’t get to hear the discussion but can’t play in the sandbox. It really drives entrepreneurs and sales people crazy if they can’t contribute. The more you can get other people engaged in education, the more successful your group is going to be.
A great strategy gets people in the game. A great culture helps an organization win. I think culture is really critical to organizational success. It’s one of the most important things in a company that applies to all levels, as I said before, from the top of the organization all the way down.
The challenge with culture is it is elusive. The best and most scalable culture is one that is managed and maintained by the majority and not by a single policing body or by the management alone. It’s one of the reasons we have leadership teams and membership committees that are empowered to make decisions in a chapter. You can get engagement from many people throughout.
Companies that dominate an industry for any length of time, I think, do so because they have a shared vision of organizational culture that is effectively implemented throughout the company. It’s that shared implementation of that vision that is, I think, an important key to building a successful organizational culture. If all the people in an organization run in the same direction in unison, that organization can dominate any industry in any market against any competition at any time.
I think that is one of the things that we have done in BNI, really created an organizational culture that has us all running in the same direction. It is, I think, one of the reasons why we are the largest face to face networking organization in the world.
That’s great. Can I ask a question?
Can you give us an example of some of the BNI traditions?
Absolutely. There are a number of them and I talk about them in Givers Gain in chapter 10. The first core tradition is the title of the book, Givers Gain. It’s really the central guiding philosophy of BNI, the who concept of giving to others so that people will give business to you is, I think, one of the traditions that really helped grow the company.
Another one is keeping the fun in the fundamentals. You know, we have policies. I am a real believer in the policies which were, by the way, developed by the Board of Advisers, not me. Members of BNI through the Board created these policies. One of the things I say is that policies are really important. It is important to have accountability in a corporation, but you can’t be a fascist in the way you apply policy. You have to practice tough love and you have to have fun. You have to follow the fundamentals but have fun. You have accountability but it is okay to have a good time. That is one of the traditions.
Another one that we train Directors on is the idea of caring about people. People don’t care how much you know until you know how much they care. It is one of the things that we talk about, particularly for Directors. So there are at least three. There are more, all of which are in most version of Givers Gain in chapter 10.
I wouldn’t have identified those as traditions. I really like them. It almost seems like guiding forces or something like that.
They are, but the reason they are traditions is there is a story behind each one as to why we implemented it. When you are in 50 countries, the thing that helps you grow to 50 is not going to help you grow to 100 unless you take those core values and things that you have done to get you to 50- unless that is inculcated into the heart of the organization. Then it becomes replicable and sustainable. Teaching those traditions which are really based on values helps to have the organization continue to grow over time.
That is great.
That is all I have for today, Priscilla. If you are listening to this podcast and you would like to share what you think is good about the organizational culture, do so here on this podcast. Drop a note. I read all of the comments that are put up. Drop a note and tell us what you really like that has helped to create a good organizational culture in BNI.
My last words are in my opinion, when all is said and done, culture eats strategy for breakfast any day of the week.
Okay, that’s great. I really appreciate it. I would just like to remind the listeners that this podcast has been brought to you by networkingnow.com, which is the leading site on the net for networking downloadables. Thank you so much for listening. This is Priscilla Rice, and we hope you will join us next week for another exciting episode of The Official BNI Podcast.