Workshop 3

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The Secret to Scaling Great Culture – Focus on Principles and Not Rules




One of the most influential elements in creating a lasting, successful company is its ability to scale a winning culture. Yet few companies actually pull it off. They seem to lose their mojo and begin to resemble the companies they so desperately wanted to be different from.


Why is this? The failure to scale a great culture stems primarily from the company’s lack of attention to the underlying principles that helped the company make smart decisions in the first place. Without a near-maniacal focus on principles over rules, a company culture begins to lose its ability to act quickly and smartly.  In a rapidly changing world, this can be lethal.


This workshop focuses on principles for identifying, making explicit, and then embedding in every facet of the organization the company’s core principles that will guide the decisions they make and actions they take. 


Speaker Bio:


Clynton Taylor has more than 20 years of experience working with organizations to help them craft cultures of innovation. Basing his work on the belief that people learn by doing, he has lead clients through innovation projects to identify deep customer needs then design and develop new products, services, and businesses. He applies his unique background of organizational psychology, design planning, and innovation strategy to help organizations transform.

He’s had the privilege of working with a number of amazing organizations, including Target, Intel, Harley-Davidson, PepsiCo, GE, FedEx and the San Diego Zoo. His work has been profiled in publications ranging from the New York Times to Businessweek. He also teaches in the Masters of Business Innovation program at CEDIM in Mexico City and Monterrey, Mexico.


Culture Q&A With Clynton Taylor


Describe your ideal workplace culture in 2-3 lines?

One that suits the company and plays to its strengths. Too many companies are busy trying to be like some other company they read about in a best-of article. What works for one company may not work for another.


What do most companies spend a silly amount of time on? And instead, where should they invest that time?

I frequently see great companies paying a lot of money hiring an outside firm to survey the company and provide results based on what they say are industry benchmarks. These firms even market on their website that they will help you get closer to average. That’s a lot of money to spend to water down the aspects of your company that makes you great. Who wants to be average anyway?


Companies should spend money on understanding what makes them great in the first place. Focus on what is working well and you uncover your unique DNA. Building a culture based on your DNA enables you to play to your strengths, not try and emulate someone else’s.


You are a senior executive, and a junior staff person has an idea on how to improve/enhance the company culture. They want to get your buy-in on it. What do they need to do/say to you to get your attention and influence your buy-in?

There’s really just one main question I ask anyone who wants to implement some new program: Why. In designing and marketing new products companies far too often focus on the cool new features the product delivers, or simply how novel the technology being employed is, instead of focusing on the customer’s needs.


Similarly within organizations, if someone can demonstrate empathy for associates’ needs, that’s 80% of what’s necessary. If they answer the question “why” clearly, I work with them to identify a simple pilot to test if the change starts to cause the change we are looking for, in a minimum-viable-product sort of way.