Following the last post about the role and significance of culture in an organisation, please consider this next thread more of an ‘add-on’ than a new stream…
I couldn’t let the comments from Stephen Sadove, below, pass without sharing, as I think they neatly challenge one of the most redundant ideas in current management practice: “If you can’t measure it, it doesn’t exist.” The trouble with this view is that it doesn’t have the ‘soft hands’ required for the subtleties of today’s workplace or marketplace.
In a recent New York Times interview, Sadove, chairman and chief executive of Saks, makes a clear case that it is actually culture that drives numbers: “Culture drives innovation and whatever else you are trying to accomplish within a company — innovation, execution, whatever it’s going to be. And that then drives results. When I talk to Wall Street, people really want to know your results, what are your strategies, what are the issues, what it is that you’re doing to drive your business. Never do you get people asking about the culture, about leadership, about the people in the organization. Yet it’s the reverse, because it’s the people, the leadership, and the ideas that are ultimately driving the numbers and the results.”
Because we tend to view the outward manifestations of work performance as products shipped, revenues booked, or earnings-per-share, we can easily discuss them in analysts calls and at management meetings. We can barely see – and surely can’t measure – the cultural aspect of what makes great products and unique experiences. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be decoded, and it certainly doesn’t mean that it is not contributing.
Beloved of audit and finance committees and CFOs, and often dressed-up as responsible governance, if we applied the ‘measurement’ dictum to many current aspects of marketing, public relations, social media and consumer interactions, we would still be in the dark ages with regards to brand engagement.
Intuition and instict – the idea of knowing both your domain and your audience – is worth much more than process or reliance on recorded measurement. It takes real commercial courage to support and rely on these skills above evidential data, and yet it is often this approach that provides a breakthrough.
When was the last time a new innovation, product development or consumer insight came your way as a result of Nielsen stats, Datamonitor desktop or retailer EPOS? Sure, these all contribute, but someone, somewhere has to have an idea and a convincing purpose based on what she knows of the market, the consumer and the latent opportunity.
Above all, most measurement metrics tend to reflect past performance, or, at best, current attitude. Hard measurement is limited in terms of a predictive index, and it certainly doesn’t give a real-time read of how, when and in what direction current attitudes are changing.
Passion; vision; faith; empathy; bright ideas and the courage to fail. All priceless; all resistant to measurement.