Building Value Through Culture

Ray Beerhorst, Director
BlueWater Partners, LLC

Business owners and leaders are continually striving to maximize their financial performance while staying competitive in an ever changing, global environment. They continually lean-out operations, reduce fixed overhead, reduce inventories, and add automation. But why are some much more successful than others? How do some companies ignite growth like a nuclear chain reaction and achieve critical mass? What are they doing to make it appear easy?

The common denominator is culture.

Successful companies have embedded synergistic, rapid learning in their work teams and middle management as a result of leadership, vision, and culture. Rather than being distracted by climate, leaders have focused on building a culture that creates the climate for innovation, change, and competitive advantage.

There is a distinct difference between the culture and the climate of an organization. The climate of an organization consists of “the way things are.” In other words, what is sensed or perceived while working with (or in) an organization. Leaders use terms that describe outcomes such as employee engagement, teamwork, and quality products or services. Culture, on the other hand, consists of “the way things are expected to be done.” In other words, culture is the shared interpretations, beliefs, and values that drive behavior in the organization.

One way to understand the relationship between climate and culture is to visualize a tree: Climate is the trunk, branches, leaves, and fruit; culture is everything below the ground—the root system that supports the tree. To improve the health of the tree (climate), there must be intentional focus on building a healthy root system (culture). By working on shared interpretations/beliefs and values, the team strengthens the organization’s root system and lays the foundation for sustainable growth and longevity.

Most companies today only look at the root cause of quality or production issues. Great companies dig deeper to address culture and build value before performance, innovation, competiveness, or morale decline.

At Bluewater Partners, our goal is to help good companies become great. We’ve been helping clients create, manage, and realize business value since 2001. Our expertise includes facilitating acquisitions and divestitures and advising destressed companies. In our experience, culture matters.

If you’re interested in discussing our approach to assessing your organization’s culture and identifying levers to drive specific outcomes and increase value, click here.