can business ventures grow and retain the commitment, passion and
agility they had when they started? Distilling patterns from interviews
with more than 200 CEOs, business writer Adam Bryant identifies six elements he believes every organization needs to foster a culture that encourages innovation and drives results.
In his New York Times article "Management be Nimble"
he describes what he calls the main drivers of corporate culture-the
things that will have outsize positive or negative impact, depending on
whether they are done well or badly. Many business scholars and
theoreticians support his views.
start, leaders need to boil down an organization's priorities into a
simple plan that also identifies clear goals and metrics. At the
insurance company FM Global, he writes by way of example, the operating
framework is profitability, retaining existing clients, and attracting
new ones. Of course, not all simplification is that easy. The University of Oregon Holden Leadership Center website offers some goal definition steps that can help aid direction and avoid chaos.
of the road, Bryant writes, involve behavioral guidelines, development
of accepted values and a commitment to live by them. When people see a
disconnect between stated values and real action, Bryant suggests, the
cancer of cynicism can metastasize.
Writers from Goethe to Emerson to Tupac Shakur
have weighed on in the concept of respect, and much has been written
about office bullying and other unproductive work behavior. Bryant
quotes Robin Domeniconi, chief marketing officer at Rue La La,
a flash sale site, who uses the expression "M.R.I" to describe her
firm's cultural guide. That means "most respectful interpretation" of
what a person is saying. David K. Williams, author of The 7 Non-Negotiables of Winning: Tying Soft Traits to Hard Results, writes in Forbes about respect as one of his non-negotiables.
also writes about the importance of teams, the ability to have
difficult conversations and the hazards of email. Despite speed and
convenience, email can be a dangerous trap. In "How to Avoid Virtual Miscommunication"
a post on his Harvard Business Review blog, Keith Ferrazzi writes that
we often convey less information than we think, less clearly than we
think, and we make more assumptions than we realize about the recipients
of our messages. Ferrazzi inveighs against sloppy presentation and
cryptic meaning, and urges we remember that the medium is the message:
that we think about whether a text, IM, video, or email is suitable for
the content we are sending.
Bryant is the author of Quick and Nimble: Lessons from Leading CEOs on How to Create a Culture of Innovation. He also writes The Corner Office, a regular New York Times business feature. Read his New York Times essay here.