Culture as Strategy

Unique culture is inimitable and as a result, if you can keep it, a permanent competitive advantage.

2020 has been a rough year. Conflict with Iran, COVID-19, economic turbulence, riots, social and political unrest – what am I missing? Didn’t we hear something about “murder hornets” at one point?

As a business, we have had to navigate so many challenges I never expected 2020 would bring (we all have!). We had to shift our entire workforce to work remotely, coordinate with dozens of clients on canceled travel, change schedules to accommodate team members with children to care for at home (including me!) and trust each other to keep it all together amidst the chaos. I lost sleep worrying about how risk3sixy would survive in the new normal.

However, during the crisis, we have thrived. 

What our team has been able to do over these last few months has been humbling. Humbling in the sense that we have had to rely on each other so much – and every team member has risen to the challenge. No missed commitments, team members setting up virtual happy hours, phone calls from team members just making sure others are doing okay – strange renegades.

If you can build a team that has each other’s back it is a competitive advantage. Period.

Upon reflection, the way we have handled challenges should not be a surprise. It is the way we’ve built our culture from the beginning. From the way we hire, the way we develop leaders, and the shared adversity we have experienced together over the years. Culture, for us, is strategy.  

Culture as Strategy

Most competitive advantages are short-lived. The fact is that the market is constantly evolving, new competitors quickly change the landscape, technology changes everything, disasters happen, and all competitive advantages are temporary. Except one: Culture.

Unique culture is inimitable and as a result, if maintained, a permanent competitive advantage. 

If you buy into the idea that culture is an essential and potentially permanent competitive advantage, how do you keep it? That is what we have been trying to figure out, too.

Maintaining Culture

As part of our mission to maintain our “strange renegade” culture we decided to define (and share): What is culture, why is it important, and how do we put culture into action at risk3sixty?

This is how we defined culture:

The unspoken agreement that ties our team together; It is our default mode of operation driven by instinct/muscle memory; It is largely the why behind what we do. Good culture survives the test of time; A source of strength in tough times; A guide when you have to make tough decisions; Tends to add clarity to your mission, not ambiguity.

This is why we think culture matters to our business:

Culture is a competitive advantage; While most things are fleeting, culture is our cornerstone; Culture is Inimitable (one thing competitors can’t copy); Culture helps us attract and keep great people that result in better work products and productivity; Good culture drives reputation (internal and external); Culture drives trust; Culture helps us consistently and successfully navigate change.

This is our culture in action:

  • Giving time back to the team: Unlimited PTO, maternity/paternity leave, Half Day Fridays during the summer, sabbatical programs, work-from-anywhere policy
  • How we hire: Hiring people who share our values (GWC + Core Values)
  • How we develop people: Coaching, certifications, apprenticeship, journeyman, and craftsman programs
  • Demonstrating mutual respect: Meeting commitments, showing up on time, listening, taking ownership, fixing problems, open discussion, patience, empathy
  • Shared adversity: Annual 100-mile relay, Ruck Hikes, getting each other’s back on challenging projects

Why Define Culture in Writing?

Culture is often one of those things buried in the subconscious of an organization’s personality and performance. As a result, it is hard to define and even more difficult to predictably duplicate across the organization. If leaders take the time to articulate their culture, it becomes actionable. When culture is actionable, it becomes a strategy, and it has staying power.

Write it down, train people on it, and measure people against it!

Want To Be a Part of Our Journey?

We want to share who we are because we hope individuals and companies that share these same values will want to be a part of our journey. If you are a company looking for a partner, contact us. If you are a security, privacy, or compliance craftsman and you want to be a strange renegade shoot us a note.

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