The prosecuting attorney – Captain Jack Ross – jumped up to begin his cross examination. He opened his brief case and grabbed three books. He tossed them on the table in front of him.
He approached the witness, a young Marine who served with the defendants. The defendants were on trial for the murder of another Marine, Private First Class William Santiago.
Their defense? They just followed orders for a code red, an extreme form of discipline.
Ross asked the witness to find the description of code red in any of his books. The witness said it wasn’t in writing anywhere.
Satisfied, Ross proclaimed, “No further questions.”
The defense lawyer – Lieutenant Junior Grade Daniel Kaffee – rose and walked over to the table where Ross had just sat down. He grabbed one of the books and asked the witness to show him where the men’s mess hall was.
The witness replied that it wasn’t in writing either.
“How do you know where it is then,” Kaffee asked.
The witness answered, “I guess I just followed the crowd at chow time, sir.”
You may recognize this story from A Few Good Men. It illustrates that every organization has both systems and culture.
As your business grows, it reaches the point where you – the owner – can’t directly control it all anymore.
It’s too BIGG.
Too much going on.
Too many touchpoints.
Too many transactions.
Too many people.
The written code
You have to implement systems. Entrepreneurs resist systems. It’s not in our nature.
But systems help us make sure we continue to deliver for our customers even though we don’t deal with them directly. Systems also help employees know what’s expected of them so they can do their jobs to the best of their ability.
Systems are the written code. They aren’t designed to limit your people. They’re designed to define the minimum acceptable level of performance for them.
You may have put systems in place. But every organization also has an unwritten code – your culture. It’s even more important than your systems.
Like the young Marine on the witness stand, people follow the crowd. Your culture is defined by what the crowd is doing.
You can’t sit in the executive suite and build a culture. You can sanction systems. You can’t sanction culture. Culture is cultivated. It develops with or without you. Ignore it at your own peril.
If you want to have a say about your culture, you’ll have to make an investment of your time in your people. Share your vision and values.
Then live them because your company’s culture develops day-by-day. It is sustained or destroyed with every decision made and every action taken by:
1. you the entrepreneur
2. your fellow executives
3. other leaders in your organization – including those without the title
Your systems help you satisfy customers. Your culture helps you thrill them. That’s BIGG success!
Direct link to The Bigg Success Show audio file | podcast:
(Image in today's post by stock xchng)