Your Company’s Culture Will Determine Your Success

CultureA friend of mine swung through town the other day after having moved to Colorado to take a job with DaVita, one of the nation’s largest dialysis companies. DaVita is renowned for its atypical company culture. My friend made that immediately apparent–he blew me away by voluntarily and enthusiastically rattling off DaVita’s values (service excellence, integrity, team, continuous improvement, accountability, fulfillment, and fun). It was as though he was reciting his own personal values, with so much awareness and personal fulfillment. Can you and your employees do that?

DaVita is a fascinating company because its turnaround was dramatic. It was a direct result of a new culture that was infused by the turn-around CEO, Kent Thiry, when he took the helm in 1999 and saved the company from bankruptcy.  Its share price has increased from $2 in 1999 to almost $120 today, and its market capitalization was $200 million and is now $12.5 billion.

What is it about DaVita’s culture that drove its success? As it is described in this article in the Harvard Business Review’s blog, Thiry transformed the company into one that valued community first and company second. Meaning that if they could figure out how to treat their community right (patients and employees), the company would succeed.

The company lives its culture deeply. Just check out this video of Thiry giving a talk at UCLA. In the first couple of minutes, you’ll see him in his signature Three Muskateers costume leading giant auditoriums in passionate outbursts of the company’s values. He lives, breathes and exudes his values so genuinely that his thousands of employees are lock-step, right there with him.

What can you do to create a culture within your company that drives success? This great article in TechCrunch argues “the organization reflects the behaviors and characteristics of the CEO, and that establishes the culture.” Consider Enron. Their values were admirable but Ken Lay created a culture of deceit and dishonesty. Meanwhile at GitHub, CEO Tom Preston-Werner has created a culture that optimizes for happiness and allows people to do what they want to do. He prioritizes hiring the right people who fit GitHub’s culture. The result is a highly innovative culture that leads to products that never would have come from the corporate honchos.

Is your company culture contributing to or hampering your success? Has your company’s positive culture been sideswiped by a major transition, like a merger or leadership change. Let us lead your company in a full-day workshop that is designed to form a new culture and establish a blueprint for ensuring that your new culture becomes the air every employee breathes.

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