Leaders be warned - an organisation's culture is not what you say it is, but the actions and behaviours of the people working within it. This single truth makes it harder for organisations to accept and embrace change where their culture resists implementing it.
I recently read Tony Hsieh's book Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose where he describes the Zappos company culture as central to its success. While much of the book is biographical and explores Hsieh's entrepreneurial history, it also describes how the Zappos values evolved and grew into what they are today. Zappos grew quickly, experienced a lot of change in a short period of time and it turns out change is an integral part of their culture.
Zappos has 10 core values, the second of which is:
This value talks about dealing with constant change and encourages employees to embrace, not fear, change. The dangers of accepting the status quo and not being able to respond quickly to change are described and how evolving fast keeps Zappos ahead of its competitors. Being part of a growing company means change has been a necessity but this value also positions the organisation for the future.
Delivering change and transformation in organisations today is difficult, many organisations are suffering change fatigue and the pressure to change as a result of our current economic climate is not slowing. Where the culture of the organisation unpins the acceptance of change it will adapt more successfully and robustly than most.
Hsieh writes "our employees know that our number one priority at Zappos is our company culture." This places change at the very heart of their actions and behaviours and ensures they will continue to innovate, respond to market pressures, grow and be around for a very long time to come. We should all aspire to that!
For more information on Zappos visit about.zappos.com or for an overview of the Zappos values: