Introduction: Why a Culture of Ownership Matters

Culture eats strategy for lunch! Enron had a brilliant business strategy, but the company was brought down by a fatally flawed corporate culture. During the 1990s, IBM was rescued from a fatally flawed business strategy by a process that revitalized the spirit of the company's original culture. Given this business truism, it is surprising that so much executive energy goes into creating strategy and so little goes into changing the cultural attitudes and behaviors that are essential to fulfill those strategies. As David Maister points out in his book Strategy and the Fat Smoker: Doing What's Obvious but Not Easy (Boston: Spangle Press, 2008), most of us know what we should be doing; the challenge is motivating ourselves, and others, to do those things—in other words, to inspire people to take ownership.

Likewise, it is surprising that not very many business leaders put as much effort into designing and building the "invisible architecture" of corporate culture as they do the visible architecture of their physical facilities. We would not so much as remodel a bathroom without a detailed blueprint describing where every electrical outlet goes, but we allow culture to evolve haphazardly and without plan or design. As just one example, every organization we work with at Values Coach Inc. claims "integrity" as a core value, at least implicitly. Yet, every single one of them has a rumor mill (so does yours, I'm willing to bet). Gossip (along ...

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