Vannoy and Ross

With the U.S. elections near, and the economy struggling, there are references to former President Bill Clinton’s now-famous campaign pitch, “It’s the economy, stupid.”

Business is about making money. And there are a lot of bosses telling their teams, “It’s about the bottom line, stupid.” And yet, those same bosses often miss one of the most significant drivers of their bottom line: the focus, mindset, behaviors – the culture – within their organization.

For example, imagine you have seven senior leaders meeting for an hour to determine how to protect the company’s bottom line. When you determine their hourly pay this becomes a very expensive meeting. It’s safe to estimate such a meeting costs the average company between $800 to $1,500. (This number is much higher for Fortune 100 Companies.) And this doesn’t include opportunity costs or the endless hours consumed by hallway conversations.

And that’s just the beginning. When one listens to the dialogue in the average meeting, the expenditure falls from “investment” to “loss”. The clock is chewed up by these and other dynamics:

  • Determining who’s to blame (instead of learning and applying lessons fast)
  • Endless discussions around all the things going wrong (rather than evolving solutions)
  • And an ‘I’ve-got-to-protect-myself’ concealing of information (versus an honest dialogue)

It’s time to change the conversation about culture. Maybe the campaign pitch should be, “It’s the culture (stupid).” It’s inexcusable to discuss cost cutting when there remains a tolerance for dysfunctional teamwork. How people are doing their work – their focus, attitudes and how they interact with others – is a financial matter of supreme importance.

What’s the price tag on your culture? Until this is identified, the “unaware” will continue talking only about those things that have a monetary number associated with them. Yet, time is money.

What percentage of time are leaders creating an environment that allows people to accelerate forward?


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