Transforming a business from its current state to a desired future state demands not only passion but also disciplined planning. In line with his view of corporate culture as a change agent, Jozef Opdeweegh outlines what such a transformation requires: a well-articulated and concise strategic plan, a message to associates detailing the future state of the company, a reassurance to the associates of their mission-critical importance, and a clear look at the company’s trajectory, including key milestones and goals along the way. Opdeweegh says, “I’m a true believer in corporate culture as an instrument to guide a company through transformation and change.”
Whether you have taken the bold decision to start your own business or have been tasked with running an existing company, the asset you are managing may well have multiple areas that deserve your special attention. For example, your business may be lacking organic growth, its leadership team may need to be recruited or upgraded, and the organization may require a couple of tangible successes to reinvigorate the team.
Any transformational activity is largely facilitated by a shared corporate culture. According to Opdeweegh, a Miami businessman with over 17 years of experience as CEO, Chairman and Board Member of private and public companies, “Corporate culture plays a critical role in the success of a company. The value and impact of a set of shared beliefs and behaviors can hardly be overstated when convincing a group of people to meticulously undertake a challenging change initiative.”
Opdeweegh cites 6 core behaviors that are very powerful in driving the right strategic initiatives of the organization. He encourages using one or more of these for discussion purposes as you go through the collaborative process of defining your corporate culture.
- Creativity: “Think outside the box and share your perspective.”
- Customer centricity: “The customer is central to everything we do.”
- Empowerment and accountability: “Push decision making down in the organization and hold people accountable.”
- Fairness: “Be fair and respectful in everything you do.”
- Openness: “Be open and open-minded, listen and allow the best idea to win.”
- Speed: “Make quick, analytics-based decisions.”
Opdeweegh uses a definition of corporate culture based on a commonly shared notion that a company’s culture consists of the sum of beliefs and behaviors that determine how associates and management interact with each other inside and outside the workplace, as well as with other relevant constituencies, such as customers, suppliers, the board of directors, lenders and other outside parties. Notes Opdeweegh, “Corporate culture, however, should ideally also extend to the development of a collective perspective on societal and environmental considerations, for instance, the role of the organization in the broader community, or the efforts to minimize a corporation’s carbon footprint.”
Opdeweegh adds that when suggesting a set of core values to the organization, it is important to come forward with values that are highly relevant to the corporation and its success, yet are universal in nature, and impossible to contest. Says Opdeweegh, “Nobody will object to a core value of ‘fairness.’ Nobody will raise their hand to state that they do not believe in ‘creativity.'” He notes that the process of agreeing on the most relevant core values or behaviors for an organization is an iterative and democratic process, with the ultimate end-result coming from many group sessions with a relevant diagonal slice of the company’s associates.