Home' The Franchise Review : September 2017 Contents THE FRANCHISE REVIEW
completely disappeared at one time. Using the web for leads
and to drive traffic to the stores was necessary.
TFR: This year’s National Franchise Convention is about
building a smarter future. Can you share with The Franchise
Review how and why you are achieving that through the Titus
Franchising Center at Palm Beach Atlantic University?
RT: Our $1.5 -million endowment at Palm Beach Atlantic
University in downtown West Palm Beach ensures that
United Franchise Group will be involved with training the next
generations, and will consistently have a large number of
graduates to hire each year.
Steve Simpson, corporate culture expert
TFR: How can corporate leaders, including CEOs, contribute to
a company culture that can deliver a smarter future for their
Steve Simpson (SS): Corporate leaders contribute to their
culture by virtue of their title! So, whether or not it is intentional,
leaders help create and sustain the culture in either positive or
Let me give you an example; if a leader publicly berates an
employee, then the culture quickly fixates on never being
caught making a mistake, given that public humiliation will
likely follow! Conversely, if a leader genuinely recognises
people’s contributions, then the culture will follow.
So, how can leaders contribute to a culture that will deliver a
smarter future? Put simply, leaders need to get strategic about
their culture and not leave it to chance. They can get strategic
by considering the kind of culture that is necessary for the
business to be truly successful, and be explicit about that. Put
another way, leaders need to articulate and constantly reinforce
the aspirational culture for that business, and get people
excited about the potential that holds.
It needs to be said, however, that getting the words right is
the easy part. It’s incumbent on leaders to live the message
of their aspirational culture. So, for example, if treating people
with respect is part of the aspirational culture, leaders need to
model that message.
TFR: How do a company’s unwritten ground rules (UGRs)
contribute either positively or negatively to creating an
SS: I created the concept of UGRs more than 25 years ago.
UGRs are defined as people’s perceptions of ‘this is the way
we do things around here’. It is the UGRs that constitute an
organisation’s culture – they are one and the same thing.
If we want an innovative culture, it follows that we want
UGRs that are pro-innovation. Typically, that’s not what
we’ve found in businesses!
As an example, we’ve unearthed UGRs such as: ‘Around here,
when someone comes up with a new idea, if it’s any good the
managers steal it and claim it as their own’. Another we’ve often
encountered is: ‘Around here, good ideas are fine, so long as
no extra money is required’. And another is: ‘Around here, new
ideas mean a heap of extra work for the person who came up
These UGRs will clearly work against innovation, no matter how
impressive the internal and external documentation.
It’s worth pointing out that not all UGRs are negative. Once
positive UGRs are in place, they can really help drive a team,
and create a positive, innovative dynamic. This doesn’t usually
happen by chance!
TFR: What business benefits do you see in an organisation
where staff are encouraged to innovate?
SS: I think there is a risk nowadays that the term ‘innovation’
is overused. In the face of disruption (with Uber and Airbnb
the most commonly cited examples), there is a risk that people
think everything has to transform in fundamental ways.
I don’t see it this way.
For ‘innovation’ to be of true benefit for a business, it has
to have meaning for everyone in the business. It has to be
meaningful for the person who is serving customers, the
person charged with marketing responsibilities and for
the technical people. In that context, leaders need to help
everyone understand that innovation means searching for ways
to improve – even if these things are small and apparently
inconsequential. It’s this ‘constant improvement’ mindset that
I’ve seen have the most dramatic impact on businesses. These
businesses build pride in the organisation, foster ownership of
issues and help them gain an edge over competitors who have
no such focus.
Corporate culture expert Steve Simpson
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