The Post-Internet Era Has Made All Aspects Of Your Company, Culture, And Products, Entirely Transparent To Your Demographic
There are at least two reasons to fix your workplace culture: 1) your company culture will inform your brand experience and even product innovation and design, and 2) you can’t fake being happy, and I suppose c) is that you can’t hide a dysfunctional culture, either.
It used to be that your organization could pretend to be something it is not. That’s not possible now, and – just as I advise fixing your product – it’s better to fix your company and culture than try to fool people, or deny the direct impact your corporate culture has on your brand perception or product design, innovation, and development.
Anybody in the San Francisco Bay knows that Kaiser Permanente is an over-grown, toxic, bureaucratic, hell-hole, that offers security for (largely) risk-averse people, and ‘status’ for uninspired upper management; it’s basically like government, except worse, since you don’t get the comfort of ‘service’. Is that mean? I don’t care – it’s true.
Kaiser survives by virtue of being inextricably linked to the healthcare-industrial complex, through its own momentum, ill-gotten wealth, legacy contracts, and existence as an institution. So, the ‘thrive’ message in their commercials, with the West Wing lady, the wellness model tagline, is baloney. And that mismatch is ridiculous. They don’t care, not really. And if you work for Kaiser or know people who do, I don’t relish this reality.
How do I know this to be the case? From research, from word-of-mouth, and from their employees. If I had cause to go there as a patient, all that information is right there, on the Internet. You can’t hide anything – not anymore.
We know HP and IBM are dying companies, despite their ads about ‘Watson’ curing cancer or whatever. They’re, also, populated by unhappy people, who don’t innovate. And they lumber on because they buy up intellectual property (from innovators), and usurious contracts with wastrel, enterprise clients (which also have miserable employees). How do I know? Their employees, and also, the Internet. See the pattern?
Your product is your culture, in part, because – today – you are visible from all sides, in the Internet Era, and because there are internal channels of communication that weren’t there 25 years ago. Every employee you have talks to people and on social media, and can run communications to anybody else within the company. In a sense, every employee is, therefore, part of your sales/marketing team, customer success, and potentially, product development – since they can convey feedback on products to engineers and designers, internally.
This means low morale, frustrated talent, petty politics, bureaucracy, micro-managed and unhappy employees, do-nothing consultants – will all eventually wend their way into public awareness of your brand. I promise. Every company is now operating in a fish bowl; word will get out and the Internet never forgets.
There is a direct connection between your workplace culture, employee health, attendance, productivity, payroll demands, product development and innovation; these are inextricably linked to your brand and product quality.
There are at least a few ways for problems with your workplace culture to bleed into your product design quality, innovation, and reliability.
Zackery West is a marketing and business consultant, and CEO of FlashPointLabs, and author of upcoming books (2019) The Paleo Workplace and Dopamine Marketing. email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Twitter: @PaleoEngineer.