Culture matters. It is one of the most important topics I’ve discussed to this point. If you build a strong culture then you have every opportunity to succeed as a business. Your team will be empowered to execute your strategy and follow your vision. In short, the sky is the limit if and when you decide to focus your efforts on structuring a culture that promotes team unity, engagement, and synergy. A few blogs ago I pointed out that culture will always eat strategy for breakfast. You can have all the strategy in the world, but without culture you will always fall short in your execution.
When you are thinking about the culture you want to create for your business, it is important to consider the fundamental authentic character traits you want your organization to represent. We call them core values. I see many companies confuse things like integrity, grit, and a strong work ethic for core values. Things like integrity are the price of admission. It is not something that is unique or special to one organization or the other. I often hear the argument that if something like integrity is not listed as a core value then are you saying that you are going to act without integrity? Absolutely not! These are basic things that are just expected and aren’t what make your organization special.
The #1 core value at Comfort Research is “finding a better way.” Our leadership team has worked to instill the concept of “finding a better way” into our everyday business structure. What does that mean to us? It means we are constantly striving to reinvent the wheel and do things different than everyone else in all we do. That means finding a better way to make a bean bag, finding a better way to structure and communicate our strategic plan, and find a better way to do culture.
That core value is epitomized with our latest technology dubbed Orahh. Over the course of our existence, we have had numerous ideas about different products. It is not always easy to figure out which product will be a winner and which might be a flop. But we do know that in our industry traditional manufacturing methods led to traditional results. With that in mind, we felt confident we had to find a better way. So we embarked on attempts to find a better way, which led us to many internal conversations about innovation. Funny enough, the answer was already in our hands.
We eventually decided to the use some of materials we already had, but in a new way. We looked at those materials to help us solve manufacturing issues AND provide unmet consumer needs. Using the EPS loose bead fill we had in place for beanbags, we applied this “old” technology of EPS molding to form the EPS we already had into new shapes. But we were pushing the boundaries of what the traditional equipment could do.
After that, we then worked with industry leading machine manufacturers to help us solve the myriad of issues that arose throughout the process, eventually finding a really unique way to apply EPS molding/technology to roll out some exciting new products. Wallah—Orrah was born. Now, I don’t want to bore you with how the sausage is made, but I do want you to know that we accomplished this through promoting a culture of innovation and doing things differently i.e. finding a better way.
If it weren’t for our internal culture and our number one core value, we would never have looked to EPS to solve the problem. Frankly, we would have been satisfied using the old methods and most likely we would have had the old results. Culture is a choice, and an important one at that. You first have to choose culture and that starts at the top of the organization. After doing that, you have to define it. Culture obviously means different things to different people. It is unique and special to each leader and his or her organization. I would submit to you that choosing culture is the easy part. Who wouldn’t want to implement a structure and attitude that enlivens a workplace, empowers employees, and drives success? But defining it can be a little more difficult. You have to think what truly matters to you and what makes you unique. Your culture has to be a representation of your innermost fabric and DNA.
After you choose core values, you are ready to actually implement it. This is where the rubber meets the road. We push our team to think different, and we support that important attitude by allowing them freedom to roam the office, take time away, communicate with leadership, and voice their opinions and innovative ideas. You never know when a simple conversation can offer a solution to an existing problem or an entirely new train of thought. And the way I see it is that every ounce of innovation is worth a pound of perspiration. Use your core values to do it.
Do that and I am confident a strong culture will help you drive your organization to your own Orahh innovation.