Leadership Lessons Part 1: Culture
As Phase 2’s 25th year continues, I’ll be sharing reflections & lessons learned over the first quarter century of Phase 2. Enhance your personal business journey through this series of blog posts. Part 1 is all about our company culture.
Culture: Your Personality Matters
A mentor once said to me, “culture is what you tolerate.” It is a company’s personality that shapes how things are done. All companies have a culture, but do you intentionally shape yours or let it evolve on its own? What are your organization’s shared values, beliefs, behaviors, and customs? Are they being communicated and put into practice? If you don’t uphold your stated values and make difficult decisions that align with them, you are tolerating a culture rather than creating the one you desire.
For Phase 2, our culture starts with our “why” followed by the Phase 2 Rules. Our “why” asks, Why are we here? Why do we exist? What’s our higher purpose? Our answer, is a simple statement:
“Phase 2 exists to have a positive impact on the people with whom we interact: our customers, our coworkers and our community.”
We began as a website development company and evolved over time to focus on custom software programming. Nothing in our “why” talks about writing software, solving unique technical challenges for our clients or creating software from scratch. However, in doing those things, we have a positive impact on our customers’ businesses. More importantly, we look for ways to incorporate our why in other ways. These include: supporting non-profits in our community, our team in times of need, and beyond. Sometimes it is as simple as having a bunch of snacks and water available for delivery drivers that serve us. In what way does making snacks & drinks available to the UPS driver help us grow our business? It probably doesn’t. But it DOES support our “why”. This is the backbone of Phase 2’s culture.
The Phase 2 Rules
The Phase 2 Rules define broad cultural norms to which we hold ourselves accountable. Each rule derives from a story that happened in the early life of the company and embodies a core value. They talk about treating people well (Everyone you meet is Brian Blake), to effective communication (The Dub Grissom Rule), financial stewardship (Never Forget the Bottle of Whiskey), remembering what’s important (Fix your Leaky Faucets) and affiliating with quality people (Life’s Too Short To Pick An Ugly Dance Partner).
Taking the time to define your own cultural norms takes time and thought. It’s an important task to undertake because often you face decisions where the easy choice flies in the face of your stated culture. Do you take the path of least resistance or choose the more difficult road?
Our experience says that taking the harder road that adheres to your culture is the better choice. We work hard to protect the culture we’ve built at Phase 2. It’s a foundational element that will continue to be in place when we celebrate the NEXT 25 years!
Read more about P2’s culture in Company Culture as a Competitive Advantage. Stay tuned for my other 25 year reflections.