To build a business that succeeds over the long-term, Fred Kofman suggests we focus on three separate but complementary areas: the impersonal “It” (strong profits), the collective “We” (a thriving workplace culture), and the personal “I” (the personal well-being of all stakeholders).

Because the three elements are intertwined, it is possible to influence the overall system from any element, Fred tells in his powerful book Conscious Business.

But, where is the highest leverage point?

Where should we begin?


Culture is defined simply as “how we do things around here.” Culture encompasses our shared values, beliefs, routines, and goals. Culture enables the execution of our organization’s strategy, the achievement of our goals, and the fulfillment of our mission.

Developing what Fred calls a “conscious culture” is a business imperative.

How important is culture?

“Culture eats strategy for breakfast,” the dean of all management gurus Peter Drucker once remarked.

Fred believes culture is more important than technology. He quotes Jim Collins who in Good to Great wrote: “Technology and technological change have virtually nothing to do with igniting a transformation from good to great.”

Yet, most organizations invest relatively little on their human capital or the development of conscious culture.

This is a big mistake, Fred warns.

As leaders, we are wise to begin with the question: What culture do we need to execute our strategy and fulfill our mission?

Because culture change leads to organizational change. Those who adjust and fit into the new culture will thrive. Those who don’t will leave.

The bad news?

Changing a culture is exceedingly difficult. We cannot do it by decree. Only by changing behaviors.

The area of biggest opportunity?

A small change in the behavior of senior managers sends a big message.


Reflection: Describe the current workplace culture at my organization.

Action: Journal about the current culture at my organization.

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