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Ducks in a Row: Intentional Culture

by Miki Saxon

http://www.flickr.com/photos/acrylicartist/5857962888/Mortgage originators are rarely great places to be, whichever side of the desk you are on.

The exception is Quicken Loans.

Quicken Loans was rated highest in customer satisfaction among mortgage originators in 2010, 2011 and 2012, according to J. D. Power & Associates. The company has also been ranked in the top 30 of Fortune’s “100 Best Companies to Work For” for 10 consecutive years.

What makes Quicken different?

Founder Dan Gilbert’s and CEO Bill Emerson’s focus on intentional culture—emphasis on ‘intentional’.

“If you don’t create a culture at your company, a culture will create itself,” Mr. Emerson said in a phone interview. “And it won’t be good. I sometimes hear people say ‘We don’t have a culture at our company.’ They have one. But if it hasn’t been nurtured, if no one has spent on any time on it, you can assume it’s the wrong culture.”

Call it Intentional Culture.

Of course, intentional culture comes in two flavors—positive (good) and negative (bad).

Tony Hsieh at Zappos is a master of good culture; Bob Nardelli is a master of the opposite.

If you aren’t sure how (or if) your own culture is intentional you should ask yourself the following questions.

  1. What are the primary features of my group’s culture?
  2. How did it happen, i.e., who originated it?
  3. Does it reflect values in which I believe?
  4. Does it drive the actions and attitude I want from my team?
  5. Are new people coached in the culture and current people reminded, so it permeates our business every day?

Then ask yourself what you can do to enhance the best parts and realign/correct any parts that have gone astray.

Flickr image credit: Rodney Campbell

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