You need only spend a few hours on YouTube or even the various financial channels on cable television to hear at least one story about how small companies produce all the innovation while large companies have trouble even keeping track of what they own from week to week. It’s the old entrepreneur’s dilemma. The big company has the cash flow but none of the inventor’s vision. The small company is all inventor’s vision and no cash.
Office culture reflects this far more often than most workers and managers would like to think. In the case of growing companies, it can be a massive drag on both advancing the business plan and producing the kinds of “leaps and bounds” growth that investors demand. It is one of those intangibles that doesn’t show up on a spreadsheet, but has a bigger effect on the numbers than anything that does appear in those rows and columns.
The excessively cautious approach is the status quo in nearly every company, even this many years beyond the advent of the information age. Unless it changes, every investment will become funding for a war against hidebound policies instead of fuel for innovation and achievement.
The Roots of Conservative Office Culture
It’s no mystery where excessive caution comes from. It’s all psychological. Managers and employees who know what it is like to be destitute and slaving away at a nightmare job in the long-shot hope of escaping to a world of plenty don’t want to go back to the bad old days. So, the moment they get a few dollars together and can defend themselves from the wolves at the door, they “turtle up” so to speak and prefer to hide instead of taking any new risks.
If they were trying to survive armed conflict, this might be a good strategy. But if they are trying to grow a company and achieve, they are working against their own interests.
The Promise of the Entrepreneurial Spirit
Ask ten accountants how a company should try to survive a downturn in profits. Half will probably recommend cutting costs. Others will recommend convening meeting after meeting to re-organize. What you reorganize isn’t important. What is important to them is that you do something, whether it is effective or not.
One of those advisors, however, will tell you to sell. Get more customers. Find new sources of revenue. Build. Expand. Achieve. That’s the advisor you want to listen to. That is the advisor that will change your office culture into one of pursuing the solution. Sales solve everything. New revenue sources solve everything. They change the equation in ways that nothing else does. They also change the way your employees think, which will have tremendous ramifications in every aspect of your company and business.