Rich Hurst profile picture

Rich Hurst

VP of Human Resources

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

“I have a feeling we are not in Kansas anymore.”

Who doesn’t identify with Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz these days? This statement has become so powerfully relatable because we associate Kansas with normalcy and safety. Any new world is far from our comfort zone. So what happens when you put a bunch of really smart people in the same room to solve one of the world’s most important safety problems? If you are not intentional, the potential is to get the chaos of Oz. On the other hand, if you are intentional about culture you won’t get Kansas, but you can get a really cool culture.

So let’s pull aside the curtain!

Our CEO, Jeff Hussey, always says, “I want to be really intentional about the culture we create.”

Great companies and organizations are set apart from all other others by their culture. Every organization has one. And every one is distinctive and unique.

Opinion varies widely. However, there is agreement on this: culture shapes us. Culture can prohibit or spark, inhibit or initiate. Let’s be clear: our choices,  behaviors, and environment speak louder than what is written on our company posters about mission and values.

Culture is the unspoken set of standards; the unwritten set of rules, the undeclared set of expectations. You may not always see culture, but you constantly feel it or run into it. Sometimes this culture is highly cultivated. But more often than not, we live a culture by “default”.

So what’s ours?

(1) Self-Managers: It means taking initiative, getting done whatever needs to get done without wasting resources. Self-management means that managers, teams, or leaders set the overall direction of a project or task, and team members implement the details with minimal oversight. The manager’s contact with reports generally consists of weekly meeting for project updates, issues, and resource requests. Otherwise, employees complete their own tasks, run their own projects, and try to solve their own problems.

In our self-managed workplace, our teammates maintain an open-door policy and keep you informed of issues they encounter. Other than ensuring employees have what they need to complete a task, such as tools and training, you are free to focus on higher-level responsibilities, such as growing the business and raising money.

(2) Self-Awareness: If we know what our strengths are, we can apply them in the right situations. We can also know when to draw on the strengths of others within the team.

If we know our weaknesses, we can recognize our emotions in particular circumstances. We can acknowledge these and stop ourselves from reacting inappropriately to a situation.

Being self-aware enables us to be more realistic about our judgments and ourselves. In turn, others trust and respect us for this, the converse is that when we lack self-awareness, we appear less credible because others are more aware of our own strengths and weaknesses than we are ourselves.

Being self-aware enables us to balance our conviction with humility; creating our vision, but being willing to actively listen to new ideas and other opinions.

(3) Collaborative: Collaboration invites people into partnerships that require commitment. Each individual commits to give something to the initiative. It is required of each to take the risk of losing something. Collaboration is the advancement of a cause or purpose that is bigger than the sum of its parts. The outcome of collaboration has a multiplying effect, a greater outcome than just the sum of the contributions. This can result in a change in direction, behaviors, awareness, and possibility for the organization. We are better together. There is no limit to what can be accomplished if it doesn’t matter who gets credit.

(4) Do the right thing: How does a commitment to "do the right thing" as it's applied to customers, employees, and other stakeholders affect an organization's daily decision-making? Doing the right thing, in every aspect of business, leads not only to success, but fosters excellence and creates leaders.

In the end, we believe these conditions and ingredients optimize productivity, performance, and profit.