It Matters Where You Make It

Mark Frasco - President


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The other day, I spoke to a group of Canadian business leaders. After my speech, I was invited to facilitate a roundtable discussion on the topic of business strategy and growth. Surprisingly, the topic of culture came up. How do you build a culture of growth?

Malcolm Gladwell, the renowned author of many social science-tilting texts, tells a story in Tipping Point (our Book Review this month) under the sub-title of The Power of Context about how certain behaviors become contagious and culturally accepted. After reading almost all his books, this story continues to resonate with me.

Gladwell comments on the 1982 research of social scientists James Q. Wilson and George Kelling who theorized that crime is a result of urban disorder – and Broken Window theory was born:

If a window is broken and left unrepaired, people walking by will conclude that no one cares and no one is in charge. Soon, more windows will be broken, and the sense of anarchy will spread from building to the street on which it faces, sending a signal that anything goes.

The impetus to engage in a certain kind of behavior is not coming from a certain kind of person, but from a feature of the environment.

So, what they do? Repair the windows, of course. Every time a window is broken, the window is repaired. Over time, the culprits find little satisfaction in breaking the windows, and other crimes are reduced.

Your environment sends cues to workers, partners and clients about what you care about. In fact, your environment is a key component to what informs your culture. Is your facility inviting, collaborative, clean, visually interesting, playful, or something else? In alignment with leadership behaviors and other norms about work and reward, your culture becomes the current in the flow of your organization.

Last week, I visited an architectural firm who is considering our services. They had just moved their headquarters. My first visit with them was months ago, in their previous location. Their previous location had their people scattered across a few floors of a high-rise. It was a typical arrangement of hard offices, hallways and meeting rooms at various intervals.

It was their feeling that that arrangement was not what they wanted in their new space. They wanted the new space to feature openness, and have artistic aspects that complemented their cultural and functional characteristics. They wanted the new space to help them recalibrate how they thought about themselves and their work for their community and markets. There is only one hard office in the new space.

Otherwise, everyone works within view of the others. (Look at these pictures to see what they did.) I’m sure you’ll agree that they made significant progress on their goals. I’m certain the people in this organization are gaining clarity about their purpose, which translates into a different spirit and in the end, a better deliverable to their clients and partners.

Yesterday culminated a year-long project at COACT. We were given the responsibility to help my club, Inverness Club, prepare and present a proposal to the LPGA for Inverness to host the 2021 Solheim Cup. Last night, with over 300 members, community members, LPGA dignitaries, including major champion, Stacy Lewis, in attendance, the LPGA announced that we’d won the event!

The COACT team, in collaboration with the Club and our regional leadership, built our proposal message around the theme, It Matters Where You Make It. I’m hoping you are sneaking up on the theme of this article. That is, that as business leaders, the environment that we create either clearly indicates that we believe in and support certain strategy and growth efforts and results, or it doesn’t. Do you celebrate successes? Do you encourage transparency? Do you build collaborative structures of growth? Is your organization a fun, rewarding, challenging, driving force of business growth?

Take a moment. Walk around your place. Look at your icons. What are they telling you about who you are and what you believe in?

Lastly, check this out: Using community assets and original pieces produced by COACT, this video was compiled and delivered to the LPGA so that they could share in our feelings about our home. Now the LPGA agrees… It Matters Where You Make It.

Questions or comments? Please contact Mark Frasco at mfrasco@teamCOACT.com