The Secret Cultural Imperatives of the “Most Admired Organizations in the World” (#2 of a 2-Part Series)
“What is the common secret to their success? The answer is their organizational culture. Their unique cultural imperatives provide a clear ‘roadmap’ for exceptional individual and organizational success.”
In our previous blog on the secret cultural imperatives of the most admired companies in the world, we learned about the first cultural imperative: The Power of Compounding.
The second cultural imperative of these 50 elite companies is an organizational shared value of continuous Innovation and Adaptation.
Low-performing and even moderate-performing organizations quickly become enamored with early innovation or clever adaptation. Leaders of these companies fall in love with a model that works, taking their focus away from the continual need to invent and improve. The culture of these organizations becomes almost exclusively inward-focused, causing them to lose touch with evolving trends in their markets and changing needs of the dwindling pool of customers or clients they should be serving.
High-performing organizations do things quite differently.
The philosophy of these organizations is “get out of the building, there are no facts to be found in the building.” This statement was first coined by Stanford professor Steve Blank, the author of Lean Startup. High-performing organizations are successful in getting their people out of internal offices and conference rooms to talk with current and potential clients, building industry and community relationships. They are rarely surprised by ever-changing external trends while they continuously innovate and adapt their model to stay relevant.
Accenture, a member of the Most Admired Companies in the World list for the past 15 consecutive years is greatly admired for Continuous Innovation and Adaptation. This cultural trait is also recognized by their customers as they serve over 80% of the Global 1000 largest companies in the world as an advisor and service provider in achieving high performance.
So what specifically does Accenture do differently?
First, Accenture measures the amount of time every member of the organization spends in the marketplace on a bi-weekly basis. From the brand new employee to the most senior executive, all are accountable to invest significant amounts of time “out of the building”. For most employees, that equates to 80% of their time. And for the most senior executives, some with multiple billions of dollars in scope of responsibility, a minimum of 40% of their time is spent in the marketplace. In fact, most of these senior-level leaders are significantly exceeding this time investment.
Secondly, Accenture’s nearly 400,000 people in 120 countries are provided leased space for the small amount of time they spend in an internal office or conference room. The space is operated like an “office hotel” where employees reserve internal space if needed for collaboration, otherwise are expected to be in the market at a client site. The way they think about and utilize space supports this cultural imperative.
Thirdly, Accenture invests significant energy in innovation, prototyping, market testing, and pivoting based on early market trends. This strategy puts Accenture in a position to provide a continuous new pipeline of offerings to assist clients in achieving high performance relative to their peers. Success is always measured in delivered outcomes as opposed to activity and participation.
One application for the church is perhaps identifying the balance between being “in the building” and “in the community.” Continuous innovation and adaptation occur when church leaders expect and inspect the amount of time they, their staff, and their members spend interacting with the unchurched, the people in their communities, business owners, and government leaders, listening, meeting needs and building enduring relationships.
What is the right balance for your church body? Is your church spending sufficient time in the community to continuously adapt your ministry model for relevance related to the unique aspects of the communities you serve? How much of your energy is invested in prototyping, testing, and innovation based on the changing “market” around you?
© 1996 – 2013 McKinsey & Company (edited for use by Leadership Network)
I hope this introduction to the 9 areas of organizational capacity and alignment has sparked new ideas and conversations for you and your leadership team. If you would like to continue learning about how these principles of high-performing organizations can multiply the impact of your church, I have created an email series that outlines the remaining 7 areas. Simply complete the brief form below and we’ll send the remaining content straight to your inbox.