Mimic behaviors
Yes you can copy, but is it the same? From Jamie McCaffrey’s Flickr photostream

I think that anyone who is seeking to grow their business and can’t seem to put their finger on why it won’t grow should read Chapter 4 of The Year Without Pants“Culture Always Wins.” Scott Berkun highlights a story of how mimicry does not work. You can copy a company like IDEO and their approach to design, but if you lack the culture and talent then it won’t work. Your result will be half-baked.

It’s one of the blind spots we all have as people. It’s hard to look in the mirror and think that our ability and talent may be lacking. After all, we like to think highly of ourselves.

It’s also hard to honestly evaluate the decisions we made or the people we have on our team. Yet, they matter a great deal compared to the tools and systems that they are equipped with. Giving mediocre people world-class tools won’t amount to success. It will merely be half-baked.

And when that happens, you have to step back and make the right judgment. It wasn’t the strategy. The strategy has worked in other places. The question becomes, “Why didn’t it work in your place?”

The answer is because there’s a whole picture and that includes the level of talent, commitment and culture that exists.

You have to be careful, especially, if you are dealing with change management for this very reason. Move slowly. Evaluate who you have on your team. Systems work, but people change very slowly, if at all.

My motto is always, “Move fast with systems. Move slow with people.” It’s the reality I have come to know.

So when you run up against glass ceilings, don’t underestimate the talent and culture. Culture is a system as well. It’s the system of people. And in today’s hypercompetitive marketplace, you have to pay special attention to who can mimic the strategies that work. This goes for the people that are working the process as well as the leadership driving it.

Published by Don Dalrymple

I partner with founders and entrepreneurs in startup businesses. I write and consult on strategy, systems, team building and growing revenue.

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