Competitive Advantage as Company Culture
A powerful competitive advantage, even though it is intangible, can be built through a unique company culture. I have seen it in action, and it is powerful. It works particularly well today because many people prefer to work at a company and make purchases from a company where they feel aligned with the purpose of the company.
Simon Sinek “Start With WHY”
Culture can become a competitive advantage because it creates a reason why your company is different — a differentiation in why and how you do something can be more powerful that product features. An author who has outlined this very well is Simon Sinek in his book Start With WHY. It is also worth watching his Ted Talk here.
Sinek states that, “By WHY I mean what is your purpose, cause, or belief? WHY does your company exist?” If your company has a very clear purpose behind its existence, it attracts excellent, well-aligned employees and well-aligned customers. He says, “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.”
Particularly in service businesses and with knowledge workers, I believe this is very powerful. Employees want to work somewhere for more than a paycheck or benefits. Life is too short to work just for a paycheck.
I also particularly enjoyed Sinek’s writing about the power of company cultures. He writes: “We’ve succeeded as a species because of our ability to form cultues. Cultures are groups of people who come together around a common set of values and beliefs. . . . A company is a group of people brought together around a common set of values and beliefs. It’s not products or services that bind a company together. It’s not size and might that make a company strong. It’s the culture — the strong sense of beliefs and values that everyone, from the CEO to the receptionist, all share.”
I have also seen how excellent alignment among employees helps with scaling a company. When everyone is aligned, it becomes possible for anyone in the organization to make decisions with confidence. They know which decisions are aligned and they know the organization will back them up. When that happens, it is much easier for a company to scale.
Also, be sure and check out the Celery Test story on page 166.