Purpose Statement

Exploration -> Experience -> Feeling -> Transformation -> Understanding

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Corporate Culture

So I have been thinking about leadership and vision and what sort of culture I want to develop at the office. My employees are, for the most part, wonderful people, but they are timid. They are afraid of making mistakes, unsure what to do; they are products of the corporate cultures they come from.

So I am trying to communicate to them that they are in a completely different situation now. I want them to think like they are the owners of the company. I want them to make decisions and take action. I know they will make mistakes. They will not be punished for their mistakes. We will fix whatever we screw up, learn our lessons and move on, wiser for the experience.

Of course, it really doesn't matter what I say or they consciously believe. Their behavior will only be transformed once they have experienced the consequences of risk and failure. I hope, when the time comes, my reflexive response is appropriate.

So I started gathering quotations that convey the corporate culture I want to establish, perhaps to publish in our monthly newsletter:

epic
NOUN:
An extended narrative poem in elevated or dignified language, celebrating the feats of a legendary or traditional hero.
A literary or dramatic composition that resembles an extended narrative poem celebrating heroic feats.
A series of events considered appropriate to an epic.
ADJECTIVE:
Of, constituting, having to do with, or suggestive of a literary epic.
Surpassing the usual or ordinary, particularly in scope or size.
Heroic and impressive in quality.
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A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man. – Joseph Campbell, The Hero With A Thousand Faces
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... but when I said that nothing had been done I erred in one important matter. We had definitely committed ourselves and were halfway out of our ruts. We had put down our passage money— booked a sailing to Bombay. This may sound too simple, but is great in consequence. Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favor all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way. I learned a deep respect for one of Goethe's couplets:
Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it.
Boldness has genius, power and magic in it!
- William Hutchinson Murray, The Scottish Himalayan Expedition (1951)
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It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat. Shame on the man of cultivated taste who permits refinement to develop into fastidiousness that unfits him for doing the rough work of a workaday world. Among the free peoples who govern themselves there is but a small field of usefulness open for the men of cloistered life who shrink from contact with their fellows. Still less room is there for those who deride of slight what is done by those who actually bear the brunt of the day; nor yet for those others who always profess that they would like to take action, if only the conditions of life were not exactly what they actually are. The man who does nothing cuts the same sordid figure in the pages of history, whether he be a cynic, or fop, or voluptuary. There is little use for the being whose tepid soul knows nothing of great and generous emotion, of the high pride, the stern belief, the lofty enthusiasm, of the men who quell the storm and ride the thunder. Well for these men if they succeed; well also, though not so well, if they fail, given only that they have nobly ventured, and have put forth all their heart and strength. It is war-worn Hotspur, spent with hard fighting, he of the many errors and valiant end, over whose memory we love to linger, not over the memory of the young lord who "but for the vile guns would have been a valiant soldier." - Theodore Roosevelt, Citizenship In A Republic, Sorbonne, Paris, France, April 23, 1910
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The best executive is one who has sense enough to pick good people to do what he wants them to do, and self-restraint enough to keep from meddling with them while they do it. - Theodore Roosevelt

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