My Italian grandfather was born in Calabria, Italy in 1899. He only had a 6th grade education, and struggled to support a family of 11, much of it during the Depression. However, when he died 1988, he and my grandmother owned a successful restaurant, and 7 homes in the Los Angeles area. Even though he was proud that I attended UCLA, he use to say, “You study books, but I am smart because I have ‘horse brains.’” Then he would snort like a horse.
By horse brains, he meant, “wisdom,” the knowledge of life. And, he probably got the Italian translation of “horse sense” slightly off, but I got the message.
Katie Morell’s article, 6 Ways to Create a Positive Corporate Culture reminded me of my grandfather’s advice. She lists six points that would help change a company’s corporate culture. The list is:
- Define Your Legacy
- Hire Smartly
- Prepare to Change
Now, the article may seem like good advice, but I think the author can use a little horse brains. According to Jim Collins of the book Good to Great, Katie should have put item #2, first. Build your dependable, self-motivating team first, then decide where you want to go. Jim said be rigorous, not ruthless. He throws out some practical disciplines:
- When in doubt don’t hire–keep looking
- When you know you need to make a people change, act.
- Put your best people on your biggest opportunities, not your biggest problems.
As you can see, using wisdom to choose your people first, before defining your legacy, or strategy eliminates a whole list of business social problems that surface down the line. You may say, “So, fire all the individuals that don’t work efficiently?” Not necessarily. Most people have a passion for something. Find that passion in an employee if you think they can perform as someone that can take ownership in their duties. However, some employees (or business partners) may not have the passion for your company. That is the time to part ways. Align your business with passionate individuals, and your employees will help you drive your business in a direction that can make the company great.