I want to first apologize for missing Friday’s Blog. For all the money you are paying me I should be at least consistent, right? If you saw last Tuesday’s blog, I mentioned that I had pneumonia, which actually became double pneumonia and some type of multi-organism infection. If you are wondering, none of it brought on by COVID - just old fashioned infections. Needless to say, I am still fighting off the effects, and it is what inspired this blog today.
It is pretty hard to be creative or productive when your body lacks oxygen. With the infections in my lungs, it became hard to breathe, take in sufficient air, and with that my oxygen levels dropped. I kept referring to the feeling as ‘cloudy’, not clear.
My normal O2 rate according to my Apple Watch was 97-98% on average. These past several weeks it dropped to an average of 94-95% with some readings in the high 80’s. Still enough not to be concerned but also not enough to do my job. I no longer had a clear picture of what was going on. And that was only a drop of a few percentage points on average.
What’s the oxygen at your company
Think of culture as your oxygen. You know it’s there, sometimes it is hard to define, and we definitely all need to be on the same page when it comes to it. If your culture reading is in the high 90s, more than likely your organization is riding pretty smooth. However, just like my pneumonia reducing levels just a little bit, the picture becomes cloudy if there is a negative trendline.
When the culture of your organization begins to deteriorate, your organization’s purpose becomes cloudy. Fewer people are seeing what you want them to see. Just a few percentage point drops can greatly reduce your effectiveness. Your oxygen level doesn’t need to drop to the 50s before you should start worrying.
Last weekend, before I was officially given the double pneumonia diagnosis, I reviewed the data from my Apple Watch. What I saw confirmed how I felt, but it was that data that convinced the Dr. to send me for X-rays. I still hadn’t had a cough, and nothing could be heard in my lungs. There were no visible symptoms, the key takeaway is that there was data to review.
How do you diagnose a culture shift in your organization? Is there a way to measure it? We look at things like customer satisfaction scores, and employee engagement statistics, but how do you see in real-time if your trend is improving or declining?
This data is very important to make sure your team members aren’t cloudy about what you are focusing on. As you define your vision and culture of the organization there must be a way to measure it.
In a 1964 Supreme Court obscenity case (Jacobellis v. Ohio) Associate Justice Potter Stewart wrote that “hard-core pornography” is hard to define but “I know it when I see it.”
If you and your leadership team are waiting to see it, you are setting yourself up for failure. It’s business 101 that the organization’s vision and culture need to be clearly defined. What I want you to see here is that more importantly, it must be measurable. It also must be continuously monitored.
In the automotive world some parts are measured 100%, others are not measured at all. Your quality team makes these decisions in the control plan. They base it on failure mode analysis, and how critical that part is. If you have something so critical to your defined culture that could create a catastrophic failure - you should be measuring it continuously.
Having a defined culture is not a checkbox you have in your annual report. It is important to the longevity and success of your company. What is your oxygen? How do you measure it? At the Kole Performance Group, we know that this is not easy work but it will lead to a better future.