What is a business without its people? Intuitively, most individuals understand that people are the lifeblood of any business. However, many businesses might not take time to examine their people lens in depth. The people lens is more than just who does what. The people lens also considers the personal assets individuals bring to the business and the culture of the business. By gaining understanding of the human element of the business, it is possible to understand the strength of a business.
The People lens includes the employee characteristics, the culture of the organization, the leadership, and the organizational design. All of these elements must coordinate to develop a strong community within the business. While an organization might have access to enthusiastic, talented human capital, a poor organizational design will squander any of that potential. Alternatively, a company with exceptional organizational design cannot operate without good leaders and dedicated employees. An exceptional business needs both excellent employees and superior organization design.
Don Cohen, in his book In Good Company:How Social Capital Makes Organizations Work, uses UPS as a case study for examining company cultures. To the average individual, UPS is merely a package delivery company. Yet, to the employees of the company, UPS is a mission. Cohen draws attention to stories of veteran drivers going out of their to train new members, eight-months-pregnant managers taking over routes for workers who called in sick, and retired drivers still calling their protégés to see how their job is going. Such camaraderie and dedication drives (no pun intended) the success of UPS.
Achieving this kind of company culture is the dream of every business. However, many fail to build successful cultures because they lack insight into how business culture operates. Too often, businesses will assume they understand their business culture without critically examining it or considering how it affects their daily operations or strategies. These types of assumptions obstruct insight.
All is not lost, however, when it comes to understanding the people in a business. Using tools of social discovery helps drive insight because it allows the people involved in the business to talk about the business. Since the people know the company the best, the power to transform the culture is in the people.
Interested in learning more about company culture, but do not feel like digesting 500 pages of technical jargon? Read Miller’s book 9Lenses Insight To Action.