The Systems Thinker Blog

Business Processes Determine Culture, Culture Determines Success!

Posted byRon Carroll

"Culture is the greatest determinant of success in an organization!"

Randy Pentington, author of Results Rule! Build a Culture That Blows the Competition Away, put it this way:

"An organization's purpose and goals set the direction. Measures focus the energy on the outcomes. Processes create habits, and habits drive the culture. You can teach skills and concepts. You can even create momentum (and a few smiles) through inspiration. But investing in skills and inspiration is a waste of money if there are not processes to reinforce your purpose and principles. The creation and continuous refinement of work processes is a mandatory practice in the Results Rule! organization, regardless of the industry" (Results Rule!, 111).

Culture vs Strategy - Drucker

Discover the Magic

People are deeply influenced by their work environment. Weaker people can become highly productive and stronger people can lose their edge, depending on your company culture. The magic really begins to happen when the right people come together with remarkable business systems and processes to create a culture of enthusiasm, discipline, and excellence.

In a workshop I taught, a participant was a little upset that I was placing so much emphasis on systems and processes. It seemed to him that I was de-emphasizing people and characterizing them as plug-and-play robots.

OK, I do get a little excited about business systems, but I always say that people are the most important component of nearly all business systems or processes.

I think Jim Collins, author of Good to Great, sums it up best:

"A culture of discipline involves a duality. On the one hand it requires people who adhere to a consistent system; yet, on the other hand, it gives people the freedom and responsibility within the framework of that system."

Processes Shape Culture

Every business has a culture of some kind. (There are many books about this topic.) But you can't change your culture any more than you can change your brand just by talking about it, or even promoting it. You have to make systemic changes within your organization that transform the way people think and behave. And it’s not as difficult as it may sound.

Let me paraphrase the counsel of Randy Pennington. If you want to have a culture of discipline, where "results rule," you have to begin by creating measurable processes. Processes create habits, and habits drive culture. It is profoundly simple!

A culture of excellence begins with a single step—a single outstanding business system! Get going today, and let me know if I can help.


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Tags: Business Systems, Culture