It’s a common problem facing many fast-growing businesses: How do you maintain the great company culture you had as a young start-up when your company is scaling so rapidly?
Speaking at this year’s Inc. 500|5000 conference, Paul Spiegelman, co-founder of the Inc. Small Giants Community, offered up some insights to that question. It’s a topic he has experience with. Spiegelman grew his business, the Beryl Companies, from three people to 400. After selling it last year to Stericycle, a large public company, Spiegelman stayed on as Chief Culture Officer to tackle the challenge of bringing a positive culture to Stericycle’s more than 14,000 employees. Here are some of the tips he gave attendees on making culture something that can grow along with your business.
1. Make company culture a priority. “Scaling culture is the last thing you’ll have to worry about if you make it the first thing you care about,” says Spiegelman. He suggests instituting a system of processes that makes culture a priority, which will grow naturally with your business as it expands. “No matter what stage you are at, culture needs to be a priority in your business,” says Spiegelman. “It isn’t easy, but there is nothing more fulfilling seeing the impact it makes on the lives of your people.”
2. Never compromise your values. At the heart of any company culture is a core set of values which should never change says Spiegelman. “Use those core values to lead your vision every day. Regardless of whatever other changes your company may face, those values need to remain unchanged.”
3. Don’t tolerate people who aren’t committed. Or, as Spiegelman less delicately puts it, “Get rid of the whiners, losers, and jerks.” Team members that don’t fit into the group can be toxic to a positive culture, so don’t hesistate to get rid of them. “You need to tell your team, ‘We are on a mission. If you don’t want to be part of that mission, you should go work somewhere else.'” He stressed that once you have made the decision to make culture a priority, then you should have no tolerance for team members who go against that decision.
4. Hire for fit, not skills. There will always be people out there with the skills capable of doing the job. So Spiegelman suggests hiring people that, first and foremost, would work well in your organization. It may take a little longer, but it will pay off in the long term.
The benefits of establishing a strong company culture go beyond just happy employees. Spiegelman stresses that there is a strong correlation between the well-being of your employees and the success of your business. “Happy employees lead to satisfied customers who will want to become loyal customers,” he says. “It all feeds back to the growth and success of your business.”
Shippers show big interest in big data
Survey shows logistics managers have high hopes that “big data” will help them fine-tune their distribution operations.
As piles of data keep getting higher, logistics managers are suiting up to dive into those bits and bytes in search of insights that could improve their operations. That’s a key takeaway from the first go-around of the 18th annual Third Party Logistics (3PL) study. The study, which is sponsored by Penn State, Capgemini Consulting, Korn Ferry International, and Penske Logistics, is conducted annually among contract logistics service providers as well as shippers. Each year, the study identifies a few hot topics for further examination, and for 2013, big data was one of the subjects chosen.
Big data refers to information stored in databases, both structured repositories like warehouse and transportation management systems and unstructured sources, such as chatter on social media sites like Facebook. The thinking is that if software could search through these data piles, it might find connections or hidden patterns that could then be parlayed into logistics operational improvements. (See “Getting insight from ‘big data,’” TechWatch, DC Velocity,} August 2012.
At a recent Eyefortransport summit on big data in the supply chain, Penn State University professor C. John Langley provided a preliminary look at the results of the latest study. (The survey was not formally closed at press time, and Langley, who heads the study, was still hoping additional shippers would take part.) To date, about 2,000 respondents from around the globe have participated in the research.
If nothing else, the preliminary results confirmed there’s substantial interest among shippers in this powerful data mining tool. Although it’s only been about a year since the buzz around big data began, 7 percent of the respondents had already begun initiatives in this area and another 21 percent said they were planning to implement big data analysis. On top of that, 56 percent of shipper respondents and 43 percent of the 3PL respondents said their organizations saw tremendous value in using big data.
What do shippers hope to achieve through big data analysis? As it turned out, the respondents had several objectives in mind. At the top of the list was obtaining clearer visibility into orders, shipments, and inventory, which was cited by 50 percent of the respondents. Another 46 percent said they wanted to use big data analysis to improve transportation management planning, while 42 percent said they were looking to leverage big data to enhance transportation management execution.
The study indicated that most shippers – as well as 3PL managers – realize that when it comes to big data initiatives, they can’t do it alone. They’ll have to get the folks in the information technology (IT) department on board as well. Seventy-nine percent of shippers and 81 percent of third-party logistics service providers said the effectiveness of any internal big data initiatives would be highly dependent on the alignment and working relationships between the supply chain and IT staffs.
Besides the issue of securing IT’s cooperation, another potential stumbling block identified in the research may be organizations themselves. Seventeen percent of shippers said their companies considered data proprietary and would not be willing to share that information with others. On the other side of the fence, 37 percent of the 3PLs also indicated their companies felt possessive about their information. That could be a problem: Using big data analysis to improve supply chain operations will likely require access to more than one company’s data.
These potential impediments aside, most respondents believe that leveraging big data will offer their organization a competitive advantage. In fact, 58 percent of shipper respondents predicted the use of big data would become a core competency of their supply chain organizations, while 69 percent of 3PLs said the same. The latter finding came as no surprise to Langley. “To effectively manage your supply chain, you have to have access to meaningful data,” he said.
Editor’s note: The final results of the 18th annual Third Party Logistics study will be presented at the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals’ Annual Global Conference in Denver, Oct. 20-23.
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