Future-ready | Leadership

Chicken or egg? Culture or transformation?

Over the past few weeks, we’ve spent a lot of time talking about the technology, trends, and skills we need to know about to be future-ready.

It's time to talk about culture.

This stuff can sound a little fluffy and touchy-feely, but truth be told, nothing is more important. If you get your culture right, you get your business right. It’s as simple as that.

Need proof? Go back and listen to my interview with David Barrett in Episode 8. He has some amazing things to say about the importance of culture in today’s corporate climate.

The question most of us ask is: How do I get my culture right? Or what’s the right culture?

And the short answer is ... I don’t know. I don’t know your business. What works for you? You know that better than I do.

Culture means different things to different organizations. You’re the only one who knows how to get the most out of your people. How you do that is, ultimately, a personal thing. You know your people, and your business, better than anybody. How do you get the most out of them?

Our guest this week, Richard Silberstein, has some ideas.

Richard is the president of SIG, a company that’s committed to delivering a customized approach that helps them leverage and maximize their benefits to retain, recruit, and engage top talent. And in the interest of complete transparency, SIG is a preferred provider and partner with the MACPA, because we believe what they’re doing is important, and is making a difference in our profession, and is something y’all should be paying attention to.

In this conversation, we cover:

  • How Richard defines culture.
  • Why you need to let your people help you define your organization’s culture.
  • How getting your culture right makes you a future-ready organization.
  • How to keep your employees engaged.
  • The most important thing you can do to improve your culture right now.

Listen to the podcast here:



Why focus on culture? Here’s why: You’re not going to accomplish anything without a strong culture.

Your culture is who you are as an organization. It defines you. And you have one whether you know it or not. Even if you don’t care about culture at all, your employees do. They know what you’re about, whether or not you put a lot of thought into it, and they’ll decide whether they want anything to do with you based on that culture.

So the question remains: What's your culture?

It starts with your core values – the things you hold dear, that truly define you as an organization. They will determine who you surround yourself with. Your core values will determine the type of people you attract to your organization — and, equally important, the type of people you repel. You want to surround yourself with folks who believe what you believe and make sure you’re not hiring people who don't believe what you believe.

You strengthen your culture with like-minded people. You can’t achieve your vision until you surround yourself with great people who not only can do the job well, but who believe what you believe. In Jim Collins’s terminology, you need the right people in the right seats – and you must have both.

And getting your culture right is more intrinsically tied to being future-proof than you might think.

Digital transformation equals culture Jamie Notter is one of the deepest thinkers about corporate culture that we know, and he has some pretty amazing things to say in a recent article titled “You Call It Digital Transformation; I Call It Culture Change.”

Jamie writes:

“I get the feeling that the people who are deeply immersed in digital transformation seem to be missing something hugely important: The digital part will be hard work, but it will be completely meaningless unless you do the culture change part.

“Interestingly, I think that most people actually do know this to be true, yet I don’t see them acting on it. When I see articles about digital transformation these days, they almost always cite 'resistance to change' or 'silos' as a big impediment. But their solutions are things like making the CEO 'rally the troops' and 'align around a vision.'

“This is not about moving anyone’s cheese. This is about changing the way you work. That means you need to make strategic and visible shifts in your culture, so the behaviors that are required for digital transformation actually happen. If you ignore the culture and just tell them to change, you’ll fail. But if you intentionally change what is valued inside the culture, you’ll see people move in the right direction.

“That’s it, and there is no substitute for doing that work. You must change your culture, and given the speed that true digital transformation requires, you must do it quickly.”

Jamie nails it. Get your culture right, then you’ll get transformation right. It all starts with who you are, what you believe, and the people you surround yourself with. Get those things right, and you’ll get most things right.

Come meet Richard and SIG SIG, as I said is a preferred provider of the MACPA, and Richard and his team will be on hand at the MACPA’s annual CPA Summit, scheduled for Dec. 6 at the Sheraton Towson North hotel in Towson, Md.

This one-day event will help you learn from the most important voices in the profession and find solutions to push your team’s careers forward. Topics discussed during the day will include leadership, technology, cutting-edge trends, and emerging professional issues.

Get further details and to register here.



William D. Sheridan