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The Acculturation of Success
by Andy
November 12, 2014

An article in today’s WSJ entitled Sowing a New Crop of Farmers discusses the need to cultivate (no pun intended) a new army of landowners willing to work the fields (http://on.wsj.com/1xhyf8G). This makes a ton of sense as the majority of today’s farmers are 55+ with the average age approaching 60. This is hard, committed work that can lead to very fickle returns.

Compounding matters, land prices have increased 50% over the last four years (thanks to the growing demand for corn ethanol and rising need for grains overseas) making it almost impossible for younger farmers to become landowners and develop that sense of farming pride and commitment. So the Department of Agriculture is starting a program that helps new farmers get started, while allowing retiring farmers to still receive payments for the sale of their land (though part of the deal is to set aside some land to preserve wildlife). Regardless, it’s helping grow a new crop of farmers.

It reminded me of a report I heard on Public Radio about South Carolina’s apprentice program – a common approach to career development in Germany. Germany’s domestic manufacturing sector has always leveraged apprentices as a way to keep manufacturing excellence and employee training/commitment high, and brought this practice to Spartanburg to support all the BMW manufacturing plants based there. Now, many of BMW’s U.S. vendors are adopting that same apprenticeship approach.

Sustained excellence is the objective of any company and BMW has achieved it as it continues to dominate the luxury segment in the United States (along with Mercedes). BMW also leverages another huge benefit – an aligned culture of excellence. This is the magic that allows companies to sustain success and keep pushing for better without having to tell everyone what to do at every move. An aligned culture of excellence creates a valuable mind-meld that not only sustains excellence, it can speed it along.

Small, start-up companies are often based on this. The problem is maintaining it as you grow or infusing it into the newbies. Some mega companies seem to do a good job of it (Apple, P&G), while others struggle to re-locate their mojo.

Since everyone cannot always interact in person to develop and nurture this culture, digitization can help. To me, corporate content is the equivalent of professional selfies. Showcasing and discussing your professional chops helps share that insight and expertise among others. When that pride of excellence is shared, a culture of excellence emerges.

If sustained excellence is a corporate objective, digital communications (blogs, articles, speeches, interviews – and lots of them) can help build and achieve it.

3 Responses to “The Acculturation of Success”

  1. Great post. The message specially resonates as our company continues to growth at a high rate and senior leadership can’t spend as much time with each teammate as we used to.

  2. Interesting timing considering the movie InterStellar. It also begs the question of why they even allow corn to be converted into Ethanol when the conversion rate is wretched compared to sugar cane (like an 7 to 1 difference in efficacy). I also love the apprenticeship program but I fear that many companies do not believe that they can make that investment as the current populace wants to move constantly to leverage their earning potential. This likely has to be state funded to be successful which screams socialism and therefore will have resistance.

  3. Sustained success comes from a cultural commitment. Perhaps the culture of Jobs will continue to float around Apple for some time, but it will dissipate at some point if they are not careful to keep the mojo going.

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