In a world of short-term thinking, an effective organizational culture provides the ultimate competitive advantage. In Win from Within, James Heskett offers a roadmap for developing one.
There’s a feeling among many business leaders that culture is both everything and nothing. That it’s squishy and can’t be quantified. That it’s nice to have until something more urgent gets in the way [read: all the time].
Author James L. Heskett systematically takes apart those beliefs in his forthcoming book, Win from Within: Build Organizational Culture For Competitive Advantage, which is a how-to roadmap for improving an organization’s culture.
Heskett, the UPS Foundation Professor Emeritus at Harvard Business School, argues that an effective organizational culture provides businesses with a major competitive advantage, allowing for higher employee and customer engagement and loyalty, all of which translate into greater growth and profits. Although many business leaders are aware of these benefits, too few are focused on boosting their organizations’ cultures. And maybe that’s just because they don’t know how to get there.
In the book, Heskett shares a collection of stories that illustrate the real-world ways a number of CEOs have swiftly and effectively tackled cultural change, spurring their employees to become more loyal, productive, and creative.
Take the tale of Satya Nadella, the CEO of Microsoft who assumed the reigns of the software giant at a juncture when growth had plateaued and ennui enshrouded the mission. Nadella undertook a speedy cultural transformation at the same time he engineered a shift in strategy toward cloud computing. Heskett charts how Nadella led a renewal of the company by discarding performance metrics that discouraged risk-taking, aligning employees behind a mission to empower customers, and proclaiming that the “C” in his title stood for culture.
The book, forthcoming in January, tackles head on some of the logistical hurdles of cultural change and provides a playbook to help leaders hire productive employees, organize around teams and values, and lead by inclusion. In a nod to the times, he devotes space to tips for creating and maintaining culture in remote settings. The book is peppered with advice on the role of the leader, including how to lead with passion and how to create an inspirational mission.
(courtesy Harvard Business School/Avery Forman)