Here are especially vital findings and powerful observations about just what it takes to build a peak performance culture. These are drawn from Harvard Business School professor, James Heskett’s new book, The Culture Cycle: How to Shape the Unseen Force That Transforms Performance:
The Culture Cycle: How to Shape the Unseen Force that Transforms Performance

“Culture really matters. As Lou Gerstner wrote, reflecting on his experiences in taking over the job of CEO at a failing IBM and achieving one of the most remarkable turnarounds in recent business history:
‘Until I came to IBM, I probably would have told you that culture was just one among several important elements in any organization’s makeup and success — along with vision, strategy, marketing, financials, and the like …. I came to see, in my time at IBM, that culture isn’t just one aspect of the game — it is the game.'”

“In studies … as much as half of the difference in operating profit between organizations can be attributed to effective cultures … an organization’s culture provides especially significant competitive advantages in bad times … all of this is possible with little or no capital investment, yielding an infinite ROI. All it requires is the time of leaders. But this is time spent doing things that good leaders should be doing anyway. In short, it involves an investment that keeps on giving back for years and years.”

“Culture has served some organizations so well that I am continually amazed that more don’t get it.”

“The question is not whether an organization has a culture. All do. Many have more than one. Cultures form with or without leadership, structure, or clear intent. The question is; what kind of culture naturally emerges from or is shaped by leadership?”

“The most frequent failing cited by managers with whom I work is the unwillingness of leadership to act in a timely manner to rein in others, especially star performers, who fail to adhere to core values and accepted behaviors in their day-to-day managerial activities. This accounts for much of the decline of previously effective cultures.”

“Organizations with effective cultures share one thing in common. They devote extreme care to who they hire. They place at least as much emphasis on attitudes of potential hires and their likely fit with others in the organization — characterized by beliefs and likely behaviors — as on skills. They involve employees in the hiring process. And then they make an effort to choose initial assignments that will immediately immerse the new recruit in the organization’s culture.”

Six Core Elements to Leading a Peak Performance Culture

My reciprocal post on Zenger/Folkman’s blog is now available. Click on Six Core Elements to Leading a Peak Performance Culture to read it. This post brings together some of the elements I’ll be covering in our free Leading a Peak Performance Culture webcast on November 4.