Posts Tagged: Good to Great


Who would you send to Mars?

August 24th, 2011

If you have read Jim Collins‘ book, Good to Great, this might be vaguely familiar to you. I give Collins full credit for this exercise, but the Mars experiment is something I have done at CBI Group to discuss our company culture. Imagine a group of anthropologists from Mars have come to Earth to observe your company. They do not speak the language and they would like to learn what your company is like, what it stands for and what your business culture is like. It is up to you, your management team or your employees to select someone to observe. In other words, who is the best person to represent your company and its culture? Who would you and your company nominate? Why?
 
This exercise is a terrific opportunity to have some fun and to recognize folks on your team! So many times organizations struggle to define their organizational culture, which is the personality of the business. Leaders debate about it and know it is important but aren’t certain how to describe it and bring it to life. I believe that businesses need less rules and employees that know how to make decisions (hopefully without management). When a company’s culture is brought to life by all employees, leadership becomes simple. It comes down to repeating cultural messages and catching people doing the right things. Leadership is difficult when you are uncertain what your culture really is. Consider this fun, strange but rewarding Mars exercise — it may help clear things up.
 
Be sure to be specific with why you nominate someone. In this example, “I nominate Maria because she is great with customers,” why or how is she great with customers? Connect your reasons to unique and specific things in your company. What this training session can do is help to crystallize the actions and behaviors that represent the intended or desired culture. For example, at CBI Group we hear, “that was an Nth degree moment,” or “you were really front door, or thanks for taking the risk and being entrepreneurial.” Each of these are cultural tenants that make up our company culture — they provide daily guidelines for all to follow and support a company built for and around the customer.
 
Not sure who to send to Mars? Don’t know where to begin to reinforce or build your culture? Start by thinking about what your customers want and need your business to be for you to deliver. And what behaviors and actions you want to see in your business…then figure out who in your company embodies those traits and behaviors.
 

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