Are you in need of a culture sock?


By ‘sock‘ I don’t mean the sock you wear with shoes. Here ‘sock‘ means a hard blow, a lethal upper cut from heavyweight boxer. Well, I mean metaphorically.



We have moved on from the famous adage ‘Culture eats Strategy for breakfast’ to¬† ‘Culture eating Strategy for breakfast, lunch, dinner and everything in between ‘to the more finite yet all encompassing ‘Culture is Strategy‘ .



A few years ago, we received an RFP( how I hate the term) from a leading University in the region asking us to pitch our branding, strategy & creative services and submit a quote. The deliverables were very much what we do for a living but what was most disconcerting was the frequent use of the word ‘vendor‘ every other line amidst the sea of largely unneeded legalese that such documents are ‘expected’ to have. Taking umbrage, I called the CEO then(himself from a large MNC technology company earlier) and requested that the word vendor in the RFP document be replaced with something more respectful and appropriate. I told him that if he expected our organisation ISD Global to bring in its experience, knowledge, insights, time, intellect, effort and emotional labour to this project, we better be perceived as far beyond being a ‘vendor‘. Though he got defensive at first saying that is the norm and the culture that prevailed at his organisation over a long time, he was gracious enough to make the change.



Don’t you feel sick and tired of the dreary ‘accounting department‘ or the ‘purchasing department‘ or the ‘finance department‘ or the ‘procurement department‘ or the ‘logistics department‘. Instead of thinking & functioning like cost centres and accumulators of ‘overheads’, what if you are adding value, creating intellectual capital and becoming cool and in the process becoming awesomely, fabulously exciting. WOW. That will be a sea change in the culture. And yes, that is the culture ideally we would like to see.

Designworks/USA is BMW‘s US design operation. The powers that be at BMW‘s HO in Munich decreed that 50% of the unit’s activities should be revenue producing stuff…more importantly it should be done for companies outside of BMW.



The idea goes like this: if you are creating fabulous chairs designed for a top notch brand like Steelcase, then that culture and creativity will find its way into the design of the interiors and seating for BMW‘s next model. And if you can’t make it in the ‘real world‘ with ‘outside clients‘, then you should not be in business. Wow. Balls, guts, gumption, all rolled into one!



So, some guard rails, if I may:-

Culture change is not ‘corporate

Culture change is not a ‘program

Culture change does not take ‘years

Culture change does not start ‘today

Culture change starts ‘right now

Culture change ‘lives in the moment

Culture change is ‘entirely in your own hands



The mantras to try with IMMEDIATE EFFECT:

We will do WOW work

We will seek out and work for pioneering clients

We will focus on the things that make us special and distinct

We will push to the hilt the things we are BIP(Best in Planet)

We will start now. Right this minute


From enterprise efficiency to enterprise transformation. From cubicle slaves to proud professionals. From performing tasks to creating WOW projects. From minimising expenses to maximising value added. From procedure-centric to client-centric. From minimising payroll and consultancy fees and hiring cheap to hiring superstars and valuing them by what you pay. From going through the motions to tolerating nothing less than excellence and coolness.



A lot to be accomplished, isn’t it? Let’s get started?



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