by Nate Rockwell on 10/04/18
As a result of taking classes with Cuyahoga Community College through the Goldman Sacs 10,0000 Small Businesses program, I was forced to drill deep into a lot of the more intrinsic and existential aspects of our business. The program was quite vast, dealing heavily in empirical and creative aspects of owning, operating, and growing a business. One of my personal favorite areas of study during the 13 week course was in Culture.
Culture is an often overlooked, but absolutely vital part of any organization (and when I say any organization, I mean EVERY organization, whether business, volunteerist, or social). Too often, those of us in business are so concerned with survival and growth, that we become fixated on our numbers and processes. It is hard not to. Next week's payroll may very possibly mean hitting the revenue goals of this week. The ability to execute a leasehold improvement could very well depend entirely on the ability to manage inventory or accounts receivable. Often, one goal is fully dependent on the positive outcome of some almost fully uncontrollable and disconnected outcome.
Since we are quite often busy working on the micro-concerns of our business, it is very easy to lose sight of one of the more macro-concerns, and one that shapes our businesses in a way that can be completely out of our control if it is ignored. CULTURE.
Culture is defined as the
set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that
characterizes an institution or organization. The actions of any organization, outside of the profit motive, are fully shaped by the culture the organization possesses. Culture can not exist fully by design, but it will exist with or without a business owner or manager taking the opportunity to shape it. When an organization's culture is shaped according to the values of that organization's leadership, it can better assure that the principles of that person or those persons, are espoused, practiced, and effectively used to reach their intended goals.
One of the key aspects of shaping a company culture is identifying the core values that will drive many of the key decisions made by the leadership, management, and team members. Core values can help to better identify the correct people to hire, the best organizations to seek synergy with, the ideal target market, the most effective marketing strategies, the most valuable associations, and the ideal operational or growth strategies.
Over the next several weeks, I will be discussing our core values. These are values that we all need to share and adapt as individuals within our ranks at Briquettes, in order to be a uniform cast of members of the same team. Almost every decision we make now is first contrasted against our core values. We avoid making any decision that would violate these values, since it would cause us to violate our principles and as a result, inch ever so closer to failing at our mission, vision, and purpose.
We see inclusiveness as a vital aspect of every facet of our lives. Our idea of inclusiveness is that it encourages diversity and builds a stronger sense of community. When we practice inclusiveness, we encourage all ideas to be presented and heard. It allows us to be better listeners. It encourages us to be more empathetic to others. It breeds an environment of hospitality, of understanding, and of respect.
In our real lives right now, we are seeing the results of exclusiveness. The political realm is a battlefield of polarizing thought, of binary ideals, and of controlled opposition. Independent thinking is rejected in favor of collective tribalism. Part of my own value structure is to reject this type of practice in favor of an open marketplace of ideas. While we are fully welcoming of people of any and all political or social affiliations, we have no tolerance for those who exercise bigotry to prevent others from being heard. We encourage our team members to be politically and socially active . . . in a way that best fits their own personal values and principles.
It is my personal belief that the prosperity of our nation was born from the ideals of the enlightenment. And it is my goal that our business will help to create prosperity by embracing these ideals. Ideals such as Reason, Tolerance, Virtue, Rationalism, Freedom of Expression, Equal Rights under Law, and a rejection of Rule by the Powerful (that people are capable of, and are in fact best off if, they have as much individual freedom as possible). By embracing these things, and through the practice of inclusiveness, it is my hope that we can build a stronger, more tightly bonded community of people who will, by voluntary action, work together for mutually desired results.
A little too deep for a BBQ joint? Perhaps. But if we do not know who we are, how can we claim to be a business that is focused on, and cares about our community?