Culture eats strategy for breakfast
When we set out on the journey to build Wirehive five years ago I had one clear mission in my mind: create a place where people love to work.
I knew we had the opportunity to do things differently and stand out in a crowded market, but only if we could create the right culture.
Because, although not aware of the quote itself, I wholeheartedly agreed with the sentiment Peter Drucker was expressing when he wisely stated “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.”
I came to this conclusion by the long road, having been lucky enough to be in and around some of the world’s largest technology businesses of the last decade, and seeing first hand what they were doing right. I’ll never forget attending a ‘T-party’ at Twitter’s head office in 2011. The free pick and mix wall and draught beer on tap were obvious eyebrow raisers but what really struck me was how relaxed everyone was and how they obviously all loved their jobs.
In addition to my personal experiences, I studied a number of famous figures’ work on culture and leadership and two things in particular stuck with me, anchoring my view of how to build a successful business.
The first was the following passage from the famous Stanford Commencement address in 2005 delivered by Steve Jobs:
“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.”
The second was a piece of work from Simon Sinek in his book ‘Start with Why’:
“Customers will never love a company until the employees love it first.”
Both of these pieces reinforced something I already believed to be true, and gave me the courage and conviction to let culture be the guiding force in our business. A decision I’ve never once regretted.
I’m pleased to say that it’s been a huge success. Writing this today I have a smile on my face, reflecting on what an amazing team we have, and excited for what the coming years have in store.
Since setting out we’ve grown at an incredible speed, picking up projects for the likes of Vodafone, DELL, Oracle, ITV and Centrica along the way. We’ve got a dedicated team of hard working people who continue to surprise and delight me with their commitment to the business and our clients. We’ve got a new proposition based on Amazon Web Services (AWS) which puts us in the hot seat to be the market leader for agency AWS consumption in the UK. But most exciting of all.. we’re just getting started.
Fellow business leaders who know what we’ve achieved at Wirehive often ask me what my tips would be for replicating our success. These are the five key areas I recommend they focus on.
1. Define who you are as a business. What is your purpose for existing, what’s your passion, what’s your strategy?
2. Define your core values. What matters to you and what should matter to the people that join your business along the way?
3. Have the discipline not to hire until you find the right people. Don’t compromise.
4. Once you’ve found the right people, empower them with trust, responsibility and freedom.
5. Create an amazing environment where people feel at home.
I hope this article has been helpful, and I would welcome the chance to discuss any specific challenges you might be facing with the culture of your business.