John P Strelecky’s book and website, Big Five For Life, feature a story and ethos built around the fictional group of companies created by the character of Thomas Derale, “The Greatest Leader in the World”.
His employees loved him and his businesses made fortunes, with customers waiting weeks just to interact with the companies. The businesses he “shared” with employees were successful because they were built around everybody’s role fitting with their own individual raison d’etre.
As a result, the employees live the lives they want to live, do the things they want to do, and get paid for it, taking time out to take holidays of a lifetime and much more. The result is a very happy and engaged workforce, which is productive, profitable and groundbreaking.
I would be very surprised if there are many, if any, companies quite as idyllically driven as those in the book, but the message to bosses is clear, if delivered with a little added saccharine.
But let’s consider that some companies come close and achieve impressive things. There are a number of businesses out there, which allow their employees time at work to do as they wish with their skills sets, and the results have included innovations and products which are not part of the company plan.
Perhaps the best known is Google, where they have 20% of their time to work on such projects. This Twenty Percent Time has led to the development of Gmail and Google News, neither of which were planned, but both of which are now at the forefront of their markets.
Elsewhere, Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov became Nobel Laureates in 2010, having isolates Graphene during one of their “Friday evening experiments”, in which the habitually played with new ideas.
The truth is that if you get the culture of the company right, it impacts upon performance in a positive way and opens up possibilities. It is all part of getting the culture of the company right and this must be led from the top.
Ensuring that the people who are leading the organisation and who are visible to the workforce, use a style and behaviour which is right and acceptable, creates role models and spreads that ethos throughout the company.
Creating the right culture within a business won’t always lead to the advent of groundbreaking products or services, but it is a step on the right track to developing a successful enterprise.