Culture = Cash

Posted On: October 4

I sent out a note to my entire CEO and senior executive network on what I feel is one of the essential elements of creating an extraordinarily successful business.


For more than 30 years, I have traveled worldwide to help businesses and people be more successful. When I look at the critical areas that most companies struggle with, one of them is consistently organizational culture. I have done massive research on this topic, read dozens of books, and deployed well over 500 “Organizational Effectiveness Audits” to various client companies. I recently sat down and reviewed all the research, my reports, and surveys, and spent several days trying to create a highly focused list of key attributes of a winning culture.

Before I give you the list, though, I’d like to take a moment to help you understand why having a winning organizational culture is so incredibly important to the success of your business.


A phrase that I like to use is: Culture = Cash.


I can tell you without any hesitation that the number one factor in creating highly engaged, satisfied, and loyal customers is to have highly engaged, satisfied, and loyal EMPLOYEES. I get asked this question all the time: “Is it customer first or employees first?” Again, without any hesitation, I can assure you that it is employees first. If you hire great people, take good care of them, and build a great organizational culture, then your happy, loyal, and satisfied employees will go out and take great care of your customers.

To put some numbers around it, all the research I’ve seen shows that highly engaged and satisfied employees can generate as much as a 104%–189% increase in profitability. In contrast, a poor organizational culture with disengaged employees can cost a company up to 22% of total revenues. Even if my numbers are skewed, there is a substantial financial incentive to creating the sort of culture that attracts top talent and gets them highly engaged in delivering world-class products and services to your customers.


So after more than a decade of research and working in hundreds of different organizational cultures, here is what I believe are the ten most essential elements of winning culture:

  1. People enjoy the work they do and the people they work with.
  2. People take pride in the work they do and the company they work for.
  3. There are high levels of engagement, connection, camaraderie, and a community of caring.
  4. There is a culture of fairness, respect, trust, inclusiveness, and teamwork.
  5. The leaders walk the talk, live the values, and communicate a clear vision and strategy for growth.
  6. Lots of open, honest, robust, and transparent communication across the entire organization.
  7. The company invests back in employees; there is a commitment to learning, coaching, and development.
  8. There is a bias for action; employees have an ownership mentality and always strive to give their personal best.
  9. There is high accountability and a strong focus on delivering the desired results.
  10. There is ample recognition and rewards, and you refuse to tolerate mediocrity.


I recommend you take a moment and score your company on how well you feel your organizational culture matches up to my list. 10 = We are world-class in this area, 5= Average, and 1 = We don’t do this at all. I might also suggest you hand out this list to your entire team and get them to score how they see the culture in your business.

My advice is that anywhere you score a seven or below deserves your attention. Anything below a four requires your immediate attention. As a result, the goal is to be eight or above. Once you get to that level, I can pretty much guarantee your business will be enjoying a high level of success.


I hope you found this list of value.

– John



Furthermore, if there is anything I can help your organization with, do not hesitate to contact me.

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