In this interview Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google, describes his culture as a competitive advantage. I have spent time working with Google as a client and found their culture and values to be very alive. Their core value is the statement ‘do no evil’.
They got some poor press for this around the time when they went into China, and were struggling with the Chinese government’s attempts to control the content that was visible to Chinese users. My experience of them from the inside was that they treated the situation as a true ‘values dilemma’. I see the role of a good values statement to ensure that you ask the right set of questions. Values create the right conversations in the many instances where a situation seems grey, not black or white. Was it more important to provide internet access to Chinese people, even under restricted conditions, or not to provide it at all? What I admire about Google is that they have those conversations, vigorously, because they feel passionate about what they stand for. They made their decisions within the context of the right conversation.
The moment I realized how misunderstood values were in organizations came around 15 years ago during a session I was facilitating with the top team of a resources company.
I have read two books recently which unashamedly advocate love and compassion as important cultural attributes for the future.
“Love is the Killer App” by Tim Sanders identifies our compassion, our networks and our knowledge as the currencies of the future. “Firms of Endearment” by Sisodia,Wolfe, and Sheth profiles, in the genre of Jim Collins, a number of companies who have focused on building values of love and passion to facilitate their success.
As I write this blog for a global audience, I became acutely aware of a choice I have to make. Do I use US or English spelling? Center or centre? Behavior or behaviour? Organization, or organisation?
I work with organizations all over the world, but with an individual client I am able to adapt to their standard. Here I have to make a choice. And there is no possibility of a win/win solution. It’s one or the other. Unless I alternate, and I think that would drive everyone mad and leave us all thinking my spell check was not working. So, I went with the US version, and hope my English family will not be horrified.