Why culture matters
Culture is 'the way we do things'.
Try not to confuse them with ‘Our Value’ statements on a company’s website. Culture is how values are lived, how things are done and what the underlying code of conduct in a business is.
What do I mean by that?
Some businesses say they operate with (ruthless) honesty and openness. The same honesty my not apply equally to all levels or individuals in an organisation. Therefore culture would not be ‘honesty’ but a different underlying flavor that is hard to capture as outsider.
Other businesses say they have a flexible culture. I have seen companies flourish where flexibility is really lived and the mantra ‘you get things done your way’. Here I also argue that culture is not ‘flexible’. There is another rudimentary tune, that makes everyone work self responsibly and trusted.
‘The way we do things’ is important in B2B Business Partnerships
I worked with a cloud native consulting firm who signed a partnership with one of the UKs largest network providers. Everyone was keen to drive success. Everyone foresaw joint revenues, thought leadership, spearheading a new market. The cloud native would get access to a massive warm customer list and the mature network provider would gain an agile team who can respond better to ‘new’ and ‘transformational’ customer demands.
Long story cut short: it didn’t work. The culture, the way of doing things, are fundamentally different between a cloud native and a firm with heritage and legacy. The mature business moved too slow, being used to the old ways of doing things. The young business was too fast and too eager for its partner. Culture and processes stopped the partnership in its tracks despite the opportunities.
What do we take away?
Culture is important when we bring businesses together. Expectation setting on how we work and achieve things together is as important as agreeing revenue targets. Partnerships depend on the relational contract!
Make sure you cover ‘the way we do things’ in your partner onboarding. Oh, and include an offsite if needed. Some things a better discussed in the warm comfy chairs of a Pub or coffee shop.
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