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The secrets to unlocking a great workplace culture 1

I often get asked, “what makes your culture at Journey Digital so good?”. I feel like I am obliged to give a quick, concise answer, as though having a great company culture is easy to explain and achieve – but it isn’t.

A great company culture is realised over time and made up of 1001 little and massive things, which all have to somehow – magically – work together.

Culture can be strategised, hired for, nurtured and even policed, but ultimately, the fate of a company’s culture rests in the hands of each employee. All you can do (if you work in a Human Resources role) is work hard to create the right environment where a great culture can flourish.

Over a series of three blog articles, I will attempt to distil some of the goodness that makes up the company culture at Journey Digital (Auckland, London), where I feel proud to lead the People & Culture team.

Secret #1: Put your people in the centre

You may be familiar with the business strategy concept known as the ‘flywheel effect’, developed by Jim Collins in his bestselling book “Good to Great” (2001).

Collins used the flywheel effect to illustrate that good-to-great transformations never happen from one single innovation or action, or plan. Instead, transformation is driven by relentlessly pushing a giant, heavy flywheel comprised of interdependent business activities. As you push on the flywheel, you build up momentum until you reach a point of breakthrough and beyond. Each of the flywheel’s business activities needs to be healthy and well-oiled for the flywheel to turn.

At Journey, our Senior Leadership Team worked hard to create our flywheel and select the business activities required to propel our company forward and reach our lofty growth goals.

We quickly realised that our people were not just one of the steps in the flywheel. Instead, they were the very hub at the centre of the flywheel. For our flywheel to have a hope of turning smoothly and with momentum, we knew we needed to put our people right at the heart of everything we do.

Saying that we “put our people first” sounds insincere and like something every company will tell you that they do, but I will guarantee that, for Journey, this phrase is not lip service – we live it. When creating our flywheel, we achieved a 100% buy-in from the Senior Leadership Team (including our Managing Director) that our people had to be in the centre – undeniably the first crucial step to fostering a great culture.

Without senior leadership and management support, ‘people’ can become just a line in the P&L. With leadership support, we have the best chance to get that flywheel turning, build momentum, and start creating that all-important environment where a healthy culture can grow.


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