Back to Insights

Find a culture you can commit to

  • by Ben Hayward
  • 19th Dec 2018
    • Branding, Employee Engagement
Two weeks ago, Upp attended best-selling author Professor Damien Hughes’ lecture on his latest book: The Barcelona Way.
In the book, Hughes gives us his archetype for establishing a commitment culture as a competitive advantage through the acronym of BARCA.
But what is a commitment culture?

It’s important first to understand the other kinds of cultures that manifest themselves in organisations from the higher echelons of government to Sunday football teams.

Firstly, there are star cultures. An organisation built from the talent it employs, paying the highest wages and delightful perks with the simple hope they can deliver. Google springs to mind when talking about star cultures.

Next is the autocratic culture, these are dominated by a charismatic leader who in themselves is the business. Richard Branson is Virgin. Steve Jobs is immortalised in Apple. If you want an even more obvious example (and why it isn’t necessarily the best culture to create in an organisation), look no further than the current White House administration.

The polar opposite of the autocratic is the bureaucratic culture. Middle management holds the reins as the process is locked in rules and regulations. It can be watertight, but slow to react to a changing business environment.

Apart from the rest is the engineering culture. This is the outlier where cultural fit is pushed aside for an emphasis on technical skills.

Finally, the commitment culture. Where members of an organisation feel valued to come to work every day because they feel the direct benefits to themselves. Essentially, a culture that makes you feel good about going to work every weekday.

Behaviour is key, according to Hughes, in creating a commitment culture inside an organisation. For Barcelona, it’s humility, hard work and team first, and you must commit completely or not at all.

It makes complete sense, the people inside your organisation, make your organisation. In a football team, players represent the team on the pitch and off the pitch, so it’s pivotal to make sure egos don’t get in the way of goals and a reputation is solidified through the actions of these players.

It’s not about being popular, it’s about being respected.

When we have a bad experience with a company, it usually has something to do with an employee, more often than not on the phone or in person, it affects the way we see that company. After a poor experience, marketing messages can feel empty to that individual, fake even, and they tell those around them. In the words of David Ogilvy,

“the consumer is not a moron, she’s your wife” and she has lots of friends.

In a business to business world ever-increasingly connected, the need to maintain a reputation as people you want to work with is indispensable. So, to create this, behaviours that reflect your organisation need to be undertaken by every person when they are representing your brand.

Hughes argues that company values, as a concept, are too abstract, rendered gimmicky with hollow statements and fundamentally useless in cultural terms. But how do you instil a culture in an organisation 2,000 employees strong? How do you create a consistent tone and service that can be delivered by hundreds of people to customers at the same level of enthusiasm and commitment you bring yourself? How can we make sure your brand comes across the way you want it to?

This is where value-led behaviours work. Work with your teams to bring to life the behaviours in action, which when underpinned by your values, can help employees at every level understand what is important and expected of them. If you can give a blueprint, something with substance that all your employees can get behind, something that is about their every day and therefore incredibly relevant, something shaped with employees so it becomes personal to each member of your business, then you’ll find the behaviours Hughes describes as the drivers of a commitment culture can begin to materialise inside your organisation.

There’s no argument that Hughes’ theories work in practice, “commitment cultures almost never fail when implemented successfully”. With FC Barcelona a prime example of this in action.

But values are not a fast-track to success.

They are your North Star, they guide how you want things done, they guide decision-making and they indicate to customers the kind of company you are. But if they’re put up on a wall and left to the few who chose them, they guide nothing.

A clearly defined set of values is vital in shaping the kind of business you want to be, the larger the organisation, the more vital they become.

If you’d like to speak to Upp about creating a set of brand values that your organisation can really get behind, get in touch…

If you want to learn more about the Barcelona way, you can purchase Damien Hughes’ book here: