People First…Turning Business Strategy Inside Out

Written by: Kim Yabsley | May 31, 2019

The building blocks of good culture are essential to business outcomes. 

We don’t build business by producing products alone. The old motto ‘service with a smile’ reminds us that we rely on human interaction to create the foundation of relatedness that drives brand recognition and ultimately, sales.

Business doesn’t grow despite people, but because of them. When our teams are engaged and accountable they not only own your business goals, they drive them through inspired action. They enjoy the experience of achievement. Its win-win. We are doing ourselves a disservice when we assume that the show will go on because in truth, the buck always stops somewhere! Success is a road lined with failure. That failure falls squarely at the feet of a human being. Culture is the stumble block for many a well-intentioned business.

Individuals create culture. But it does have a tipping point, and somewhere along the way the sum of its parts becomes greater than the whole. 

People stay or leave culture, not jobs. 

If we want to retain good people, to expand our reach, to extend into new markets, to diversify our offering, to grow our businesses, we must first grow ourselves. 

It’s not always pleasant to start reviewing your business by first looking at yourself; but it is usually necessary.

We must ask ourselves: What does fit for business mean? Is your business strategy a fit for the culture you have created? Do you have the capability and the culture to align your intentions with outcomes?

Businesses either enable culture or they enable insurmountable barriers that prevent culture from self-optimising, which it absolutely can, over time, with the right foundations.

So, what are the building blocks of good culture?

1. Business Strategy
Clarity creates certainty. When businesses (which includes leaders) are clear with their people about direction, expectations and required outcomes, action planning, implementation and expanded outcomes follow. People need to context for accountability. 

2. Lead the Charge on Change
No business is an island. You need your people (preferably on board) to navigate tricky waters with you, at times even for you. We are operating in challenging times, amid changing markets. The better you become at taking your people on the journey, the more engaged they stay.

3. Provide the Pathway
Define the following (regularly, in different ways) and watch the stability and peace that settles over your workforce, even in times of heightened stress and prolonged change:

i. Where are we going?
ii. How do we propose to get there?
iii. How will we know when we are there?
iv. What might happen along the way?
v. How do we get supported (who should we call) if things go wrong?
vi. What happens if we don’t make it?

4. Deal with the elephant/s in the room
People cannot step boldly into the future when they are stuck in the past. Recurrent themes carry the scent of unmanaged issues. Try your best to deal with issues as they arise, but not just with the band aid fix it. We are all busy and its common to look for the easy way out of culture issues, which are often complex and require consistent effort over time. That said, when a recurrent trend is presenting, issues accumulate exponentially. Then you have two problems to deal with; the issue itself and whatever allowed it to become recurrent in the first place.

5. Deep dive
To avoid the above, deal with issues as they arise. (Hint: “issues” might be people, circumstances, past events, relationships or even unresolved feelings. Take a deep dive into the root cause of any and all issues. A little time now saves a lot of time later. Understand the real triggers that cause culture breakdown and prevent them from becoming systemic and causing a cumulative effect that becomes a business issue.

6. Start with the End in Mind
Strategy is essential to business success; you can’t create engagement without a baseline or blueprint. Pick your timing, sharing your vision, harness collective energy and take-action. After all, together we achieve more!

These are the foundations for building better culture, for strengthening teams and for enhancing outcomes. It takes insight and action to expand outcomes. Invest in your people, watch them return it into your business, share the strategy, celebrate the success and shine on! 


Kim Yabsley is an expert in change management and strategic review, using the Cultures of Excellence framework.

For more head to

Success North Queensland