Company culture has a major impact on business success, as it affects everyone from employees to partners to customers. In a recent SalesforceLIVE webcast, Rich Karlgaard, Editor-at-Large and Global Futurist at Forbes Media, shed light on the vital importance of culture in today’s global economy. Hosted by our own Jamie Domenici, in partnership with Docusign, Sage and Xactly, the webcast covered the impact of mega trends surrounding the global economic, political, demographic, and technology impacts on today’s businesses. While culture was just one aspect of Karlgaard’s talk on surviving and thriving in the global economy, I personally found it to be the most impactful.
Here are the highlights of the cultural focus from Karlgaard in this webcast, including eight of his quotes about culture, explained.
Karlgaard urges organizations to stop thinking about the size of their companies, or the number of people on their payrolls. “If companies today have to org chart every little decision, they're not moving fast enough,” said Karlgaard. “Instead, be cognizant of your culture. Write it down and set a precedent. Rally your company around that.”
Karlgaard discussed the impact of today’s global economy, and urges businesses to be mindfully aware of the circumstances in which they live, where there are problems, and where there are opportunities. “Don’t panic or get stressed about it, but come together as a team to be able to pursue these opportunities or solve these problems,” said Karlgaard. The good news is that organizations can be “cognizant regardless of your company size.”
“My thesis is that the best model is living organisms. We have immune systems,” noted Karlgaard. “You have this immune system that takes care of you, but imagine what it would look like for an organization to have a really good immune system.” For Karlgaard, that gets to the culture of an organization. Companies with an immune system will have a high level of trust, great teamwork, great appreciation for diversity, and unique talents that their employees bring to the organization.
Business to business is truly person to person. We work with human beings in business. If the goal is to obtain a customer, hold onto a customer, and satisfy a customer, then the rational and emotional side is crucial. “Customers think rationally, and they also think emotionally. So you better bring that into your product or service,” advised Karlgaard. The people delivering your product or service must have those “hope balance-characteristics.”
In order to create high levels of trust and personal empowerment within an organization, Karlgaard recommends developing teams that spontaneously form to solve a problem or to pursue an opportunity on a day-to-day basis. “Establish steering teams to create whole-brain teams, which means cognitive diversity, introverts, extroverts, left-brain thinkers, right-brain thinkers who can see the big picture. Analytical people, highly analytical people, and highly intuitive people,” Karlgaard recommended.
In today’s global economy, Karlgaard feels it’s crucial to have a “highly adaptive culture based around small autonomous teams where people love and respect each other and can therefore rise spontaneously to solve problems or pursue opportunities.” He goes on to share, “People who are happy and feel good about what they're doing is going to matter. It improves how companies impact their customers.”
According to Karlgaard, it’s appropriate to be fearful, but it's not appropriate to be paralyzed with fear. “Andy Grove of Intel, said ‘Only the paranoid survive,’ and I think that's good,” said Karlgaard. “A useful amount of paranoia and fear is needed to think about the future, but also look at it in an optimistic way. ” Good managers will make sure that there is that balance, because according to Karlgaard, that's the creative spur.
Many companies are doing a great job of preparing for the short-term, but might not be looking five years ahead, according to Karlgaard. ‘The two-to-five year time frame is really critical,” said Karlgaard. “The global integrated economy has offered great opportunity for organizations to mobilize their companies around technology and other trends.” Focus on how to stay competitive as a company in an era where technology is evolving as fast as it is. “There are trillion dollar opportunities out there for companies to figure out based on these trends,” advised Karlgaard.
Watch the replay to hear all of Karlgaard’s mega trends impacting today’s organizations.