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Brandwave-logo-6.png |Organizational Culture | may '15

Critical element in any strategy is its translation into reality

The only true measure of success is in its execution. And one of the key determinants of successful strategy implementation is organisational alignment.

Have you ever watched the rowing eights event? Now, think about the performance of the top teams – what do you see? you will see nine people (including the coxswain) working together in synchrony to achieve their primary goal of crossing the finish line first.

Successful rowing eights operate as a unit

To achieve success, the rowers must stroke at the same pace with the blades of every oar pulling at the same depth in the water. They all know the overall game plan for success and they are ready to respond to the orders of the coxswain (who’s job it is to quarterback the execution of the race strategy and communicate the adjustments that keep the boat on course in changing wind and water conditions) as individuals and as a cohesive unit.

Each member of the team knows what their job is during the race and that they can rely on their coaching, training, boat, and equipment, and the skills, technique, and commitment of their teammates while the race is on. When team alignment and cohesion is off, the boat strays off course, essentially wasting time, energy, and the resources that were invested in trying to achieve the goal of winning the race.

Without alignment, the best strategic plan will never be fully achieved

It’s very much the same for an organisation. Without alignment, the best strategic plan will never be fully achieved because organisational alignment is the glue that makes strategy execution excellence happen. An aligned organisation gets things done faster, with less effort, and with better results, and is more agile and responsive to changing business conditions. Ultimately, a high level of organisational alignment is essential for achieving increasingly better business performance results now and in the future! That’s why organisational alignment is so important for achieving better performance results.

How to cultivate organisational alignment?

1. Have a purpose beyond profit
2. Create a shared vision and a common direction
3. Visualise the journey
4. Envolve the whole organization
5. Do something together
6. Share numbers
7. Celebrate milestones
8. Measure early and often

Let's face it,  great corporate culture doesn't just happen, you need to make it happen!
source meliorate
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The benefits of a strong corporate culture are both intuitive and supported by social science. According to James L. Heskett, culture “can account for 20-30% of the differential in corporate performance when compared with ‘culturally unremarkable’ competitors.” 

But what makes a culture? Each culture is unique and myriad factors go into creating one, but we've observed at least six common components of great cultures. Isolating those elements can be the first step to building a differentiated culture and a lasting organization.

1. Vision: 

A great culture starts with a vision or mission statement. These simple turns of phrase guide a company’s values and provide it with purpose. That purpose, in turn, orients every decision employees make. When they are deeply authentic and prominently displayed, good vision statements can even help orient customers, suppliers, and other stakeholders. Nonprofits often excel at having compelling, simple vision statements. The Alzheimer’s Association, for example, is dedicated to “a world without Alzheimer’s.” And Oxfam envisions “a just world without poverty.” A vision statement is a simple but foundational element of culture.

2. Values: 

A company’s values are the core of its culture. While a vision articulates a company’s purpose, values offer a set of guidelines on the behaviors and mindsets needed to achieve that vision. McKinsey & Company, for example, has a clearly articulated set of values that are prominently communicated to all employees and involve the way that firm vows to serve clients, treat colleagues, and uphold professional standards. Google’s values might be best articulated by their famous phrase, “Don’t be evil.” But they are also enshrined in their “ten things we know to be true.” And while many companies find their values revolve around a few simple topics (employees, clients, professionalism, etc.), the originality of those values is less important than their authenticity.

3. Practices: 

Of course, values are of little importance unless they are enshrined in a company’s practices. If an organization professes, “people are our greatest asset,” it should also be ready to invest in people in visible ways. Wegman’s, for example, heralds values like “caring” and “respect,” promising prospects “a job [they’ll] love.” And it follows through in its company practices, ranked by Fortune as the fifth best company to work for. Similarly, if an organization values “flat” hierarchy, it must encourage more junior team members to dissent in discussions without fear or negative repercussions. And whatever an organization’s values, they must be reinforced in review criteria and promotion policies, and baked into the operating principles of daily life in the firm.

4. People:

No company can build a coherent culture without people who either share its core values or possess the willingness and ability to embrace those values. That’s why the greatest firms in the world also have some of the most stringent recruiting policies. According to Charles Ellis, as noted in a recent review of his book What it Takes: Seven Secrets of Success from the World’s Greatest Professional Firms, the best firms are “fanatical about recruiting new employees who are not just the most talented but also the best suited to a particular corporate culture.” Ellis highlights that those firms often have 8-20 people interview each candidate. And as an added benefit, Steven Hunt notes at that one study found applicants who were a cultural fit would accept a 7% lower salary, and departments with cultural alignment had 30% less turnover. People stick with cultures they like, and bringing on the right “culture carriers” reinforces the culture an organization already has.

5. Narrative: 

Marshall Ganz was once a key part of Caesar Chavez’s United Farm Workers movement and helped structure the organizing platform for Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign. Now a professor at Harvard, one of Ganz’s core areas of research and teaching is the power of narrative. Any organization has a unique history — a unique story. And the ability to unearth that history and craft it into a narrative is a core element of culture creation. The elements of that narrative can be formal — like Coca-Cola, which dedicated an enormous resource to celebrating its heritage and even has a World of Coke museum in Atlanta — or informal, like those stories about how Steve Jobs’ early fascination with calligraphyshaped the aesthetically oriented culture at Apple. But they are more powerful when identified, shaped, and retold as a part of a firm’s ongoing culture.

6. Place: 

Why does Pixar have a huge open atrium engineering an environment where firm members run into each other throughout the day and interact in informal, unplanned ways? Why does Mayor Michael Bloomberg prefer his staff sit in a “bullpen” environment, rather than one of separate offices with soundproof doors? And why do tech firms cluster in Silicon Valley and financial firms cluster in London and New York? There are obviously numerous answers to each of these questions, but one clear answer is that place shapes culture. Open architecture is more conducive to certain office behaviors, like collaboration. Certain cities and countries have local cultures that may reinforce or contradict the culture a firm is trying to create. Place — whether geography, architecture, or aesthetic design — impacts the values and behaviors of people in a workplace.

There are other factors that influence culture. But these six components can provide a firm foundation for shaping a new organization’s culture. And identifying and understanding them more fully in an existing organization can be the first step to revitalizing or reshaping culture in a company looking for change.

source harvard business review

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Brandcell at Beirut Service Jam
Brandcell participated in the 3rd edition of the Beirut Service Jam held on the first weekend of March
Part of the annual Global Service Jam event that is set across different cities of the planet at the same time, the Jam gives the opportunity to designers, engineers, analysts, students and design-thinkers to come together for 48H and try to create services and products that shape the world. 
It was an inspiring activity to take part in; one that reaffirms that innovation is at the center of true and meaningful growth.
Have a look at the many projects that were the result of this year’s Jam (444 projects in total this year; from 40 different countries!)

The term “corporate culture” once brought to mind strict dress codes and cut-throat coworker competition, but  company culture is rapidly emerging as essential to building a brand, attracting customers, and winning the burgeoning war for talent.
Recognizing the growing role of company culture in attracting and retaining talent, company review and salary comparison site Glassdoor compiled this list of the Top 25 Companies For Culture And Values.


​The companies that fared the best in this evaluation are those with a clear mission statement and stated values that are congruent internally and externally. Employees frequently take note of how the company deals with users, clients, and external constituents, as well as how they behave “within the walls” of the company.

While the list is studded with familiar tech names like Google, Riverbed, and Citrix, a broad array of companies are represented, including grocers Wegmans and H-E-B, retailers Nike and REI, Southwest Airlines, and the Walt Disney Company.

The appeal of a positive company culture is so strong it’s become a kind of de facto compensation. Companies that once used hefty salary packages to attract the best and brightest no longer have the same resources as they may have pre-recession, so non-cash benefits like flexibility and clear company values have become a way to attract candidates.

View the complete list here 

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Gazzaoui requested a Brand Audit in order to have a Brand Health check that will allow identifying the gaps and areas of improvement and move the company form a sales oriented one towards a Brand driven one.
Brandcell undertook a full brand audit with internal and external surveys among key employees and customers and identified the areas of strengths and the areas of improvement among the following topics: brand foundations, brand strategy, brand management, brand engagement and strategy deployment as well the company's internal structure. An in-depth analysis and recommendations followed to turn gaps into growth opportunities.
Walking The Talk
by Carolyn Taylor

Packed with energy, enthusiasm and a “can do” attitude, ‘Walking the Talk’ transforms the dream of change into an every day reality. A must read for any manager embarking on the journey of cultural change. Carolyn provides a roadmap for all aspects of building an effective culture, showing readers how to lead, define, plan, analyse and capitalise on culture to transform themselves and their organisations.


#1: Lead by example
Leaders don’t work on culture, they work in it, tracking it, modelling the right behaviours and communicating core messages.

#2: Tell your story
Great leaders capture and articulate their company's story in an inspiring way.

#3: Provide purpose
Employees tend to strongly identify with their company’s purpose, values and goals, improving both engagement and satisfaction.

#4: Solicit feedback
Internal practices, tools and policies play a vital role in promoting or hindering desired behaviours.

#5: Inculcate and reinforce
It is easier to attract and build an esprit de corps and promote the right behaviours when the firm has effective mechanisms to manage human capital.

#6: Embrace differences
Healthy cultures are not homogenous. Higher organizational performance and innovation come from diversity, not uniform workforces.


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