As a corporate anthropologist and culture change expert, I am fascinated by Stephanie Breedlove’s story, one of the amazing women I write about in mynew book, "Rethink: Smashing The Myths of Women in Business." Get your copy here. I also did an On The Brink podcast interview with Stephanie back in 2017. What makes her story so important, and so relevant for the times, is that her success came in large part from a belief that if you strive to bring out the best in people, that brings out the best in your company. I've heard this many times from women entrepreneurs and I think it is something that women in business do particularly well when they're building their companies. To get the full story of how Stephanie bucked her parents' advice and started her business anyway, then sold it for $55 million, read my book. For a taste, I offer this synopsized excerpt below. Don't let anyone hold you back from realizing your dreams!
I have had so many requests for help using the Organizational Culture Assessment Instrument, the OCAI, that it seemed timely to tell you more about this great method and tool for evaluating your culture today and what you would like it to become in the future (www.ocai-online.com).
A business, by definition, needs to be in a constant state of motion. If you want to grow and succeed in the market, you need to always be moving forward. The same can be said for organizational culture. In both cases, change is the driving force that can help your organization reach its goals and fulfill your ambitions.
Why is corporate culture important?
Understanding organizational culture is hard, and changing it is even harder. But it is the essence of what your organization is all about. In order to implement meaningful change inside your business, you will have to look inward and evaluate your current culture. Only then is it possible to determine where you want to go from there and create a strategy that can help you reach your destination.
Fortunately, recent developments in understanding and improving organizational culture have created new methods that can help you achieve change. One such method is the OCAI and here is how you can use it to implement change in your organization.
Anthropologists seem convinced that no one wants to hire them. With very low unemployment and almost 6 million jobs going unfilled in the U.S. today, shouldn’t highly-skilled, well-trained and capable anthropologists be able to find work of some kind that’s related to their education and interests?
As many of you know, I love talking about anthropology—specifically, how corporate leaders can apply its tools and methodology to bring about culture change, greater success and bigger profits. But, change is hard. In many cases, change is literally pain. The brain actually fights it, which is why real, lasting change is so difficult to come by. As a culture change expert, I see this all the time with clients. But the good news is that yes, change can happen! And with a little guidance, you can actually make it stick. Yes, indeed you can drive change.
In my recent interview with Thomas Fox, these concepts are exactly what we talked about—anthropology and culture change and how each influences the other. As I explained to him, in a corporate setting, leaders espouse values, beliefs and expectations so people know what to do and how to get it done. Everything is fine until something begins to change and then that culture must change, too.
But knowing how to "do" culture change can be tricky. To help businesses achieve success, I offered the following six steps (abbreviated here):
6 steps for achieving successful culture change
Now that “On the Brink: A Fresh Lens to Take Your Business to New Heights,” my award-winning book on how corporate anthropology can help businesses grow, is being read by CEOS, business leaders, entrepreneurs and even anthropology students, I'm frequently being asked, "What is this thing called 'anthropology' or 'business anthropology' and why should I know about it, much less use it to help grow my business?"
In addition, I cannot tell you how many parents have contacted me about their son or daughter who is in love with business anthropology in college or with just anthropology itself. What kind of jobs are out there for an anthropology major?, they want to know. As an anthropologist myself, what I don't want to tell them is that only a few years ago, Forbes and Kiplinger ranked anthropology as the worst major for finding a job after college.
Maybe it is time to change that!
There is now a very big role for anthropology and anthropologists in business.
Given the business trends I am seeing as I travel around the country working with clients or leading workshops, I am convinced that now is the time to make anthropology less academic and more easily understood and applicable, particularly in the business world. Indeed, the tools and methods of anthropology are what can help your business or organization sustain growth during these rapidly changing times.
So what is this thing called "Corporate Anthropology?"
Did you know that firms led by women are more profitable? And that the number of women-owned businesses grew 45% from 2007 to 2016, compared to only 9% growth in overall businesses? Clearly, as women have taken on greater leadership roles in the business world, it’s paying off for both them and business, as I explain in my recent article for smallbizdaily (which you can read here).
As a corporate anthropologist, what interests me about the rise of female business leaders is their ability to restructure company cultures in order for women to thrive in the workplace. But then, what type of culture do women really want and is it all that different from what men want, too?
Recent research conducted by my firm, Simon Associates Management Consultants, revealed that in many ways, men and women want similar things in the workplace. Both prefer a strong clan culture that emphasizes collaboration, teamwork and a focus on people.
What kind of workplace cultures should women in leadership positions create?
Here are three ways women leaders can make the workplace more attentive to the needs of both men and women:
Are women good for business? You better believe it.
As women have taken on leadership roles, it’s paid off for both them and business
As I cite in a recent article in WE magazine for women, a study by the Peterson Institute for International Economics found that firms with women in the C-suite were more profitable. (Read the article here.) This should come as no surprise, given that the number of women-owned businesses grew 45 percent from 2007 to 2016, compared to just a 9 percent growth in the number of businesses overall.
For me, as a corporate anthropologist and culture change expert, this begs the question: With all these women in leadership roles, will they change workplace culture to make it more female-friendly? (Uber, Fox News and The Weinstein Company, take note.) Furthermore, what type of culture do women really want and is it that different from what men want, too?
To answer this and other gender-workplace issues, we at SAMC did some research. As it turns out, in many ways men and women want similar things at work. Both prefer a strong clan culture that emphasizes collaboration, teamwork and a focus on people.
Important lessons for women who head up or start their own businesses
What we can all learn from Uber CEO Travis Kalanick’s downfall
Who would have thought that one blog from an exasperated employee could bring down the CEO of the world’s most valuable private company? Just goes to show: one person really can make a difference.
As I describe in my recent article published in Home Business Magazine, it all began with an Uber employee, Susan Fowler, going public about her harassment and sexual assault by her manager. She at first thought the situation was unique to her but soon a tsunami of complaints were streaming into HR—which did nothing.
But this wasn’t about a single individual. Once the curtain got pulled back on Uber's internal workings, it became sickeningly clear that here was a culture that had lost any focus on core values.
In light of all this, if you're a CEO, how can you create a workplace culture that prevents sexual harassment situations from undermining your business, and even your own leadership?
In brief (for more, read my article here), here are three things to consider in order to see your business with “fresh eyes.”
I have recently been interviewing women entrepreneurs who have built successful companies. Some transformed start-ups into multi-million dollar businesses, often selling them for huge returns. Others were Blue Ocean Strategists®, saw an unmet need and determined how to solve it, adding value in innovative ways. Many are taking old family firms and turning them around. Throughout our conversations, one theme that has emerged again and again is the importance of culture.
As well as good ideas and committed employees, culture is what has powered these women's success
As Lisa Tomasi writes in PositivityDaily, these women seem to have a “secret sauce” for staying positive and spreading it around their organizations. In my opinion, that "secret sauce" is their ability to intentionally create a workplace culture that's collaborative and empowering, yet still focused on results. I elaborate further on these observations in a recent article on Forbes.com. You can read it here.
When women create companies, they don't just mimic men. They have their own style of building better businesses, better teams and better results.
5 principles for building businesses where employees work well together and innovative ideas thrive
What I am finding throughout my interviews is that a combination of these five tenets is often their recipe for success:
Work Pause Thrive,” has some answers. 5 million empty jobs in the U.S. waiting to be filled? And even though 47% of the workforce are women, if businesses don’t enable them to enter that workforce, then re-enter it after pausing to raise children, who is going to fill those empty jobs—657,000 of which are in IT? Perhaps Lisen Stromberg’s new book, “
Work, pause, thrive. Not just a nice idea—more like a recipe for success
As I describe in a recent article I wrote for The Huffington Post (which you can read here), having a career and having a family might be a little easier than it was, say, 30 years ago, but not all that much. At least, this was Stromberg's experience. She found it quite hard to pursue a career in advertising and marketing while raising children so she paused, pivoted and became an award-winning journalist. Along the way, she realized that other women were struggling with the same choices, which caused her to ask, is pursuing a career and having children an either/or for women? And if so, does it have to be this way or could things change?
Like a true entrepreneur, Stromberg got to work seeking ways to solve the conundrum. First, she conducted research, surveying 1476 women (and a handful of men) and personally interviewing 186 women, trying to discover how well (or not well) women are managing to balance their working lives and mommy lives. What she found was that irrefutably, the U.S. has become a nation of women breadwinners (almost half of all American workers are women) and with numbers come power—in this case, the power to change.
To change the workplace, change the workplace's culture
Stromberg believes that for the workforce to be transformed into one where women and men can perform across all their roles—home, work and family—the workplace culture needs to change, focusing less on work/family needs as a problem to solve and more on creating a better work environment for both genders.