When you're a startup company and hiring your first or maybe tenth employee, you have the luxury of being very close. Everyone’s fully tuned into what’s going on in the business, and it’s easy to arrange an all-hands meeting. This becomes slightly more complex as a 100-person organization, and the challenge only builds as the team grows to 500, or 1000 people. As the company grows, the founder is no longer as close to their employees.
Layer this with different geographies, and the challenge grows exponentially. You’ll now be dealing with different cultural practices or nuances. As you hire strong leaders, they might start creating their own culture within the organization because they’re able to drive it. Suddenly, instead of a unified culture, you have multiple cultures in the same organization.
This is why having a Soul System is incredibly important, and offers a framework – shared purpose, shared understanding and shared behaviors – to have clarity of thought across the company. It is a way to scale that intimate relationship that a small startup founder has with their team even as the company grows in size and across different regions.
LinkedIn is a great example of a company with soul. These statements are crystal clear and codify experiences within the company.
Another example from a different industry is Johnson & Johnson, who live by what they call their credo. The credo was developed over 75 years ago and has stood the test of time, which suggests that it's been well thought through. It was updated twice: once to address ecological responsibility, and the other time to reflect a more inclusive definition of parenthood. This credo reads like a blueprint for the stakeholder approach.
There’s an interesting story around this. When Johnson & Johnson’s CEO Alex Gorsky retired, the outpouring of love he received from former and current colleagues across all ranks was truly astounding. This wasn’t accidental. Gorsky, through his career, had embodied the credo and brought it to life. That's the power of the Soul System® – getting the ingredients right will mean making a very real mark on your people.
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