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Culture within business is the working environment created by choices business leaders made in the past, ones made in the present and as odd as it may first seem, those that have yet to be made.

By identifying, aligning and integrating the commercial and cultural elements of your business model Culture becomes a strategic decision-making tool, influencing decisions made in the present and the future.

Understanding the potential of building, leveraging and transforming Culture as a strategic asset is crucial and Culture must be consciously integrated into your business model in order to accelerate sustainable growth and build asset value.

Many businesses think of Culture as a ‘nice to have’, a personal development tick box and as such it often isn’t allocated adequate resources.

The reality is that Culture is a C-suite issue about strategic business planning. Its focus is on growing the asset value of your business.

In order to recognise this, discussions within organisations need to be repositioned; rather than a cost conversation, Culture is an asset conversation.

Design, build and transform your Culture

Awareness is the greatest agent for change; do you know how you and your senior teams make choices and how decision-making is viewed?

When you made a particular choice in the past, do you have an awareness of what behaviour resulted, what the outcome and commercial impact of that decision was across your business – internally, externally and behaviourally?

Awareness enables businesses to make more informed choices

Those that view Culture as an asset are far more valuable as it underpins brand values and codifies the behaviour and mind-set required to express and sustain them. They create a foundation of trust with their employees, customers and other stakeholders. In turn this inspires investor confidence that the business has a sustainable and scalable future.

There are many businesses that pay lip service to brand values and don’t deem it important enough to ensure that they are embedded into the business.

By placing words on a poster or website that stands alone tends to isolate Culture as something separate from the commercial aspects of the business. Unless they are lived and breathed, the cultural will never be linked with the commercial and an opportunity to leverage a valuable asset will be missed.

Focus on people

Growing your business successfully relies on understanding your people and developing the human capital within your organisation. To grow a sustainable business self-responsibility is a crucial focus; each individual must want to take responsibility for their own role.

A key factor in discounting a business’s asset value is when the leadership team is not working well. For example, when there’s discord and misunderstanding or it doesn’t have the best and most effective talent, capability and Culture.

Investing in the leadership team as an asset is crucial, when leaders only focus and build their individual competencies then they miss out on leveraging whole team capability.

The team needs to build its competencies individually and collectively. Building individual competencies is a positive step that enables the team to support each other through mentoring. At the same time, developing the team’s competencies collectively enhances the team’s wider capability as a support mechanism for employee development throughout the wider business.

In developing competencies collectively, the whole leadership team benefits. It also builds the capability of direct report managers and develops the organisation’s next layer of talent more widely. This approach builds the business model and accelerates growth with the right team in place at the right time to meet the challenges that will arise.

Expression. Demonstrate you’ve delivered your Brand promise

‘Expression’ includes the expression of your people as well as the expression of products and services.

Remember that your employees are your first customers, which explains the need to focus on Culture. One maxim that captures this says, ‘The way you treat your staff today is the way they’ll treat your customers tomorrow.’

When your overarching intent, values and positioning are aligned, the story lived out every day demonstrates your brand promise – both internally and externally.

Customers and investors follow businesses with strong alignment because the world understands who they are. Apple is a great example of this; people want to connect, engage and be a part of their story – customers, staff, investors, suppliers and partner organisations.

Business owners and leaders with foresight will see the commercial and equity value that flows from building, transforming and leveraging Culture as a strategic asset.

Utilising Shirlaws frameworks creates an architecture, strategy and clear steps to integrate Culture into your business. It will enable you to build and implement a compelling strategy that increases asset value and integrates commercial and cultural choices into your business model.

Whether you harness it or not, Culture runs through every choice you make in your business.

The vital growth accelerator

Culture is a vital growth accelerator, not something separate or to be added ‘when we have more time.’ Culture is a hidden gem and vital to accelerated growth. Culture isn’t one thing, it’s everything.

If you’d like to find out how you can harness the positive power of Culture in your organisation email hello@shirlawsgroup.com or join us at our next Discovery Session, at The Waldorf Hilton.