Creation Ships First We Share Solar Units

Creation team members first heard about We Share Solar when Diana Ferrari, Director of Central Engineering at Creation Technologies learned about a suitcase building event at St Agnes of Assisi, where her daughter Julia attends school.  Diana couldn’t stop thinking about how to help this program as part of Creation’s Making a Difference initiative and one phone call to We Share Solar Co-Director and Co-Founder Gigi Goldman and they both realized that it was a perfect match.

The VAVE engineers at the Creation Milwaukee Business Unit connected with Hal Aronson, Co-founder and Director of  We Share Solar, and discussed different avenues for creating a lower cost  educational kit, the WSS601.   Our commodity managers and Vice President of Commodity Management, Steve McEuen sourced and quoted the material and was able to create the kit at a price below We Share Solar’s target.

Once we agreed to move forward and quote the project for manufacturing it was turned over to Robert Flores, Business Development Director for Creation Express Services out of San Jose, California.  Robert met with Hal Aronson to discuss their cost expectations and timelines.   Robert also worked very closely with Creation team members Chuck Herman, Customer Focused Team Leader and Juanita Wright, Procurement Specialist to make sure the project went smoothly.     “What really helped to get the project quoted and into production was communication,” said Robert Flores. “I was in constant communication with Hal, and then Chuck, Juanita, and I were meeting on a daily basis to discuss any changes to ensure the project kept moving forward to meet the aggressive deadlines, and we made sure everyone involved was kept up-to-date.“  Chuck and Juanita both agreed communication was the key to success.  Hal had given Creation some very aggressive timelines for delivery which could have been challenging due to some long lead time parts.   Juanita was able to find substitutions for those parts with shorter lead times and while we had already exercised a VAVE to drive out cost, Juanita was able to find even more cost savings and the project actually came in under budget.

Wendy Cross, Program Manager with We Share Solar, which is the specific group focused on these cases, was very impressed with the team in San Jose.   “Once everything was approved we were in a time crunch to ship with the start of the school year.  Chuck and the team in San Jose were able to ship 30 kits a day.    We exceeded the estimated schedule and shipped out well over 200 in the first week,” said Wendy.

We Care Solar facilitates the international deployment piece.  The model is that each school gets 6-8 suitcases, they keep 6 and deploy 2.    Each year participating schools will fundraise to try and buy more.  The teachers are very excited to have humanitarian project based learning as well as an opportunity to learn about wiring and circuitry.    Currently most of the cases are deployed to Kenya and Uganda so students can have lighting giving them more access to resources.   We Share Solar works with partners in Kenya that do the installation work, liaison in terms of choosing schools and in addition can help with maintenance.

And there is more!!!  October 24-25 there will be a Creation We Share Solar training event in Creation’s San Jose Business Unit.  Creation representatives from various business units and Creation Design Services will be on hand to learn how to lead suitcase building workshops. They will eventually host workshops with children in their home cities. Look for future updates on these events!

Learn more at: https://www.wesharesolar.org/

Creation shares knowledge and resources with We Share Solar to provide engineering education for students

When Diana Ferrari, Director of Central Engineering at Creation Technologies learned about a We Share Solar suitcase building event at St Agnes of Assisi, where her daughter Julia attends school she came away with more than the excitement of seeing her daughter with a multimeter and wiring diagrams. We Share Solar organization teaches children practical engineering skills to build solar suitcases that are then delivered as lighting solutions for schools in energy poor regions of the world.

Diana was already thinking about how to help this program as part of Creation’s Making a Difference initiative. She shared photos and her thoughts with fellow team members and there was an immediate interest with ideas being bounced around as to what we could do to help.

To get the ball rolling Diana reached out to Co-Director and Co-Founder Gigi Goldman at We Share Solar to ask if Creation Technologies could sponsor some suitcase building events. Once Gigi learned more about the company and capabilities she mentioned they were struggling to find ways to cost reduce the suitcase so that they could expand their program’s reach. “When I explained to her my role in Value Add Value Engineering (VAVE-cost reducing customer designs and working with commodity management to leverage Creation spend to source material), I think she almost fell out of her chair!” Diana stated.  We realized in that conversation that we had a perfect fit! Creation’s passion for Making a Difference, our ability to add value engineering resources and leverage our supply chain to cost down the product.

The VAVE engineers at the Creation Milwaukee Business Unit have connected with Hal Aronson, Founder and Director of Technology and Education at We Share Solar and are brainstorming different avenues for cost reduction in the unit.  In addition, our commodity managers and Vice President of Commodity Management, Steve McEuen have sourced and quoted the material and found a 50+% cost savings. In the future we are looking to partner with suppliers to help supply material at cost.  Joe Garcia, VP West Region Business Development and Mark Evans, VP and General Manager in San Jose have met with team members at We Share Solar and are looking to take over contract manufacturing (CM) services from their current CM out of the Creation San Jose Business Unit.

Hal Aronson remarked, “We Share Solar inspires students to work with technology to serve humanity through building solar electric systems.  We have spent the past 4 years developing our programs and proving the concept. To date we have trained 100 + teachers who have engaged 4,000 American and Canadian students deploying several hundred solar electric systems which have lit up the schools for over 35,000 students from energy poor countries and refugee camps. People love the program both for its service to humanity and for the way in which it engages and empowers students. The limiting factor in enabling greater numbers of schools to participate in our programs is the cost of the solar suitcase kits.   Creation Technologies is generously working with We Share Solar to dramatically lower our hardware costs; this will help us clear the major hurdle to growing our programs and impact. It has been a complete pleasure to work with the Creation Technologies’ VAVE team.  We went through the process thoroughly and at a good pace.  When I put forward a date by which we needed to start shipping kits to schools the team approached it with a “can do” attitude.  This will open up great opportunities to grow and sustain our reach.  This is the beginning of a beautiful partnership”

Gigi Goldman adds, “Our mission at We Share Solar is to inspire the next generation of change-makers.  In learning to build a Solar Suitcase and then sharing it with their counterparts who live in places of energy scarcity such as rural Kenya and Uganda, young people experience making a positive impact in the world through their own work.  We are especially excited about how this opens up the world of engineering and STEM to young women who see the purpose in the work and are excited to help others.   Hal Aronson and I co-created We Share Solar 4 years ago and have become more inspired by it every year as organizations like Creation Technologies embrace it and join us to make it even better and more accessible to communities they care about.  Together we are doing more than just telling the next generation to try to make the world a better place, we are giving them the tools to actually do it…from promoting sustainable green energy education to reaching across the globe with open hands, a generous heart and clean energy.  Everybody wins.”

Learn more at: https://www.wesharesolar.org/

The Right Move: Celebrating a Culture of Professional Development and Success

On a recent Friday afternoon, Creation’s Vancouver business unit (BU) became the site of a full on Mexican fiesta. Sure, there weren’t any margaritas, but there was a piñata and a four-man mariachi band.

In an hour filled with singing, dancing and clapping, they celebrated the promotion of one of our own. Ana Cantu, a 12-year Creation vet, was recently named Vice President of Supply Chain after spending the past five years as the GM of the Vancouver BU.

“We are a family here,” said Ana. “Our relationships are strong and we love to support each other.”

Celebrating the successes of team members has long been a part of our culture. At Creation, it is common for people to develop their skills, grow in their positions, and move into different roles – whether that is within their own department or a lateral move.

Being able to understand multiple areas of our business and the EMS industry enables our people to be strong assets to our customers.

Across our business units, you will see examples of people expanding their skill sets and making a move. We have recently seen a Customer-Focused Team Leader (CFTL) transition into a specialized Business Development role. On the flip side, we have also seen a former Finance Leader move into a CFTL position.

Donna Dasgupta of the Toronto BU was one of those people who sought out experience in a completely different department as she transitioned from CFT Support to People & Culture Administrator.

“I’ve never been at a company where employees came first and promotions and career development programs were such a priority,” said Donna. “Going into my new team with such a supportive atmosphere made the transition very enjoyable for me.”

Some people started their careers at Creation learning the ropes of the organization before transitioning into their dream role. That was the case for Haresh Shah, who was recently promoted from Production Associate to Test Engineering Support in Toronto.

“I feel so thankful that Creation gave me the opportunity to grow as a professional and person,” said Haresh. “I’ve always wanted to work in Test Engineering and now I have this great opportunity to do what I love.”

“The team was so happy for me, congratulated me and offered me any support I needed during the transition,” said Haresh. “I am very happy working in this type of environment!”

These are examples of our company developing our talent and bench strength to meet our customers’ needs. Part of the strength of Creation is the experience and versatility of our people.   The other part is the ongoing support the team gives each other.

 

5 Essentials to Deliver (Multi-Year) Award-Winning Customer Experience

creation-technologies-mississauga-project-team
Team CFT-D in Mississauga

There is an old saying in business that the customer always comes first.

I disagree!

Why? The saying is incomplete.

I believe in any business relationship, the best results occur when the customer always comes first….and the provider is purpose-built to deliver.

In seven years as a Customer-Focused Team Leader (CFTL) for Creation Technologies in our Mississauga business unit, I have learned that the key to delivering great customer service is having a great team that’s intentionally built to understand and deliver what our customers need.

If it weren’t for the amazing people I go into work with every single day, I wouldn’t have any customers!

Like everyone at Creation, I was extremely proud when it was announced that our company was the recipient, for the second year in a row, of the Circuits Assembly’s Service Excellence Award for ‘Highest Overall Customer Rating’. This award is based solely on third-party feedback direct from the customers of all participating EMS companies.

Winning the Highest Overall Customer Rating award in back-to-back years says two things to me:

• Creation Technologies has been able to deliver a consistently great customer experience.
• Our business model is the right one to deliver great products and solutions while providing exceptional service.

Anyone who’s worked in the EMS industry knows that staying consistent and credible with customers is not easy. It is something that takes a team effort and requires a lot of flexibility.

Before I wrote this post, I asked my Customer-Focused team for their thoughts on how Creation works with our customers to make them successful. Here’s what we came up with.

5 Essentials for a Great EMS Customer Experience

 

1. Be Available

Our Customer-Focused Team’s goal is to build genuine relationships with our customers – business relationships and personal relationships. Creation’s model is designed so that we act as an extension of our customers’ teams. We want customers to know they can pick up the phone any time, that communication isn’t limited to task-oriented emails, that we want to talk to them!

Sometimes we even call just to say hi!

2. Be Understanding

When we’re working with a customer, we want to make sure that we have a clear understanding of their needs. The best way to do that is to talk to their team regularly to find out what their priorities are, and how we can help adjust what we’re doing to make the right things happen.

We know that their customers’ needs are changing all the time, too.

3. Be Responsive

I’ve heard from my customers many times that some prior EMS providers struggled to get back to them in a timely manner, even for the simplest questions.

When a customer comes to our team with a question, we may not have an answer right away, but I guarantee we will immediately acknowledge their concern and let them know we are working on it. Our customers tell us in our weekly meetings that they appreciate that responsiveness.

4. Be Dependable

Holding ourselves accountable means that we can follow through on commitments. Open communication within our team is crucial. When we’re all on the same page, we can work together to make sure that what needs to get done, gets done.

5. Be Proactive

This one is near and dear to my heart as a team leader. When we’re adding to our team, I look for people that want to go that extra mile. For our customers, this delivers that relationship and service that goes ‘above and beyond’. For our Creation team, this means an environment that helps us all succeed in our roles and delivers the personal satisfaction that’s essential for long-term retention and success.

Just like the Pursuit of Excellence in Continuous Improvement, Creation Technologies will always work on finding new ways to provide a great customer experience.

But I’m very proud to be part of a company that has a track record of award-winning customer satisfaction.

And I also happen to believe I have the best customers and Customer-Focused Team at Creation, even though I know every Customer-Focused Team Leader feels the same way…

 

CFTD
Team CFT-D in Mississauga during Halloween 2015

 

 

Building Communities: Creation’s Milwaukee and Chicago Locations Recognized by Goodwill Industries

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From left to right: Chuck Stadler (Senior VP and COO, Goodwill Industries of Southeastern Wisconsin), Heather Ohlinger (People & Culture Leader – US, Creation Technologies), Monica Hinek (People & Culture Leader – Milwaukee, Creation Technologies), Gloria Grampo (People & Culture Leader – Chicago, Creation Technologies), and Donald Driver (Goodwill Industries Ambassador, former NFL player with the Green Bay Packers)

 

Empowering people and communities through employment has long been the mission for Goodwill Industries of Southeastern Wisconsin. For nearly a century, the non-profit organization has helped people with disabilities and disadvantages find paths to long-lasting, meaningful careers through education, training and job seeking services.

Recently, Creation’s Chicago and Milwaukee business units were jointly honored by Goodwill Industries of Southeastern Wisconsin as their 2015 Power Partner. This week, the award was announced in a Goodwill Industries ad in the Chicago Tribune and the Milwaukee Business Journal.

Heather Ohlinger and Gloria Grampo, part of Creation’s People & Culture (HR) team and based out of Milwaukee and Chicago respectively, are involved with the Goodwill program on a regular basis.  I had the chance to talk to them about what this means to Creation.

“We are so proud to receive this prestigious award and to be associated with an organization like Goodwill,” said Heather, who is Creation’s People & Culture Leader – U.S. “Focus on relationships and our communities is core to Creation. Being able to partner with Goodwill Industries of Southeastern Wisconsin has enabled us to further our community initiatives and connect with some pretty incredible people.”

The award recognizes companies in the Midwestern United States that demonstrate the highest level of corporate social responsibility, and commitment to the Goodwill mission by providing substantial, ongoing work opportunities for people with disabilities and disadvantages.  Past recipients of the award include the Milwaukee Public Schools, Cree Inc., MillerCoors, and Northwestern Mutual, so we’re in some great company.

In 2015, Creation used TalentBridge, a Goodwill Industries company that helped us recruit and hire. Through the service, Creation was able to add new people to the team who bring the right skills and enthusiasm to our Milwaukee and Chicago business units.

“We have seen so many people from the Goodwill program excel and continue to learn and contribute daily.” said Gloria, Creation’s People & Culture Leader in Chicago. “Creating jobs and providing training for everybody has been our greatest investment.”

 

Here is the advertisement

Business Journal Power Partners Ad 2015_Creation Tech

Are Innovation and Collaboration Inherently Linked?

Creation Technologies President and CEO at MEDTECH 2015

How are solution providers like Creation Technologies innovating to drive long-term growth and success as companies, and as business leaders in manufacturing and the high-tech sector? Collaboration plays a defining role.

Bhawnesh Mathur, Creation’s President and CEO, recently shared his thoughts on collaboration throughout the business ecosystem on the Manufacturing Innovation panel on the Strategy & Development Track at MEDTECH 2015 in Buffalo, New York:

“The world has discovered that you don’t have to have a lot of patents [to be successful]. We say that patents are a measure of how innovative we are, or that our country is, but that isn’t necessarily the case.

I think what we’ve learned in the last several years is that collaboration between, i) academia and businesses, and ii) businesses working together and sharing resources and costs, creates technology that makes the country more innovative, and helps the country become more growth-oriented.

With the deployment of NNMI – the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation where companies and academia are working together – that [organizations] are working together because I think they believe that we can develop technology better, faster, that way. I think they believe we’ll create more jobs in North America that way, they believe there is a faster route to innovation that way. It’s a model that doesn’t [provide a particular company with] a lot of patents.

I think what’s happened to the world over the last several years is that, while I absolutely agree with [others on the panel] that you have to protect customers’ intellectual property, and trade secrets and capture [critical information] in your QMS (Quality Management System), that this fear that we’ve got to have thousands or millions of patents to be “good” is something that runs contrary to collaboration and working together to [create] a more robust economy.”

Now us marketing folk are always thinking about our value proposition and how we can drive customer success. At Creation, though, it’s literally everyone across the company who thinks about our enterprise value as more than just a measure of growing revenue and improving profitability. As more than just a function of winning business.

I’m proud, and lucky, to have a CEO, a leadership team, and a company culture dedicated to building strategic partnerships through collaboration, candor and shared objectives. A team that sees collaboration as intrinsically tied to innovation and long-term success. As the responsibility of a corporation in the economic ecosystem.


To the MEDTECH conference attendees, Bhawnesh posed the question:

“Do we want to share with each other, or patent what we know? It’s an interesting dilemma. My observation is that [the global mindset] is changing more toward working together and delivering more success.”

Our motto of Working Together to Build the Future is core to the value we believe Creation Technologies provides as an EMS partner. What role do strategic relationships and collaboration play in your organization’s plans for growth and long-range contribution as a business leader?

 
Watch the video:
 

 

Proud to Build CardeaScreen’s Life-Saving Medical Device

Breakthrough Hand-Held CardeaScreen ECG Diagnostic Medical Device
Cardea Associates’ Breakthrough Hand-Held CardeaScreen ECG Diagnostic Medical Device

At Creation, a core element of our Purpose is enriching lives. Some days, we even get to save them.

A Breakthrough Medical Device

Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) is a leading cause of death among adults over the age of 40. In the U.S. alone, more than 1,000 cases of SCA are reported per day, many of them in sport participants. Though the exact numbers are still undetermined, young people also suffer from SCA. The disease is fatal for 9 out of 10 people.

Thankfully, there are ways to identify risk and test for abnormal cardiac conditions.

Cardea Associates, founded by David Hadley, PhD and Victor Froelicher, MD, has developed a breakthrough, hand-held electrocardiographic (ECG) device that makes cardiac screening easier than ever before.

Developed with athletes in mind, the FDA-approved CardeaScreen ECG device provides affordable, high-quality diagnostic data that identifies life-threatening, quality of life-limiting cardiac conditions.

In other words, CardeaScreen helps save lives.

To build their ECG systems, Cardea Associates partnered with Creation Technologies. Today, we’re manufacturing these amazing medical devices in our Vancouver, Canada business unit.

In the Nick of Time

The Nick of Time Foundation has a mission to protect kids from SCA through education, legislation and free cardiac screening. Cardea Associates is a Nick of Time Foundation partner supporting this great cause.

In February, the Nick of Time Foundation used CardeaScreen devices built by the Creation team to conduct an onsite screening at Meadowdale High School in Washington State. Out of the 555 young hearts that were screened, 8 students were identified for immediate follow-up with 11 more for follow-up over the next year.

This screening helped to save the life of a 14-year old boy.

Jennifer Both shares her story and her thanks:

“I want to thank you so much for your part in bringing the Nick of Time Foundation heart screenings to MHS. I wound up bringing my two sons, ages 14 and 12 to the screening for a “routine” heart screening, thinking we would be in and out in a flash. It turned out a bit different than I had expected, but I am very grateful for this. My 14 year old wound up with three abnormal EKGs followed by an echocardiogram that showed he has a congenital heart defect!

I spoke with the cardiologist from Children’s Hospital and he explained that my son has WPW Syndrome, an electrical defect that usually doesn’t show up until adolescence or young adulthood. He has his follow up appointment for further testing this week.

I am a very proactive parent, and had seen symptoms in my son for two years. For the last two years he has complained of dizziness, light headedness and heart palpitations. I have even picked him up from his middle school because he was “sick”. The school secretary said he didn’t have a temperature, but he was lightheaded and pale. He just didn’t “seem” right, she said. I took him to his primary care physician, who listened to his heart and said it sounded fine. He suggested that he was an anxious child. From that perspective, I agreed and we went on about our business. Unfortunately, a routine doctor exam doesn’t include an EKG, and his heart defect was missed.

If it weren’t for all of you folks, I shudder to think what might have been for my family, and other families whose kids were diagnosed with heart problems that day as well.”

The Creation team is so proud to have amazing customers like Cardea Associates. The Creation–Vancouver team, in particular, is grateful to have played a part in helping the Nick of Time Foundation and CardeaScreen devices help the Both family.

Our Creation Technologies Vancouver team that builds the CardeaScreen medical device
Our Creation Technologies Vancouver team that builds the CardeaScreen medical device

A postscript for sports fans…

In addition to being used for screening in high schools in the greater Seattle region through the Nick of Time Foundation, CardeaScreen is used by a wide range of college and professional sports teams, including Stanford University, University of Washington, San Francisco 49ers, Golden State Warriors, San Jose Sharks, San Jose Earthquakes and Baycity Bandits.

Read more FAQs on the CardeaScreen website.

Company Core Values: What Makes a Value “Core”?

Fruits of the seeds planted across Creation
Our Core Values: Fruit of the seeds planted across Creation

Familiarity breeds contempt. In the case of vocabulary, this means we might use words freely and regularly without respecting them, or examining or revisiting their underlying meaning.

(Of course, if you looked up the definition of every word you use on a regular basis, you wouldn’t have much time to write or talk).

I find it useful, especially when I’m writing or speaking about a topic, to try and take a “fresh look” at a word to see if there are any insights to be gained.

As I prepared to blog about Creation’s Core Values, the word “core” jumped out at me. Why do we call them “Core” Values?

So I went to first place most of us go when we want to find an answer…Google, of course! (Quick trivia quiz – how many of you remember “Ready Reference”?)

Here’s the first definition that met my eye:

Core: (noun) The tough central part of various fruits, containing the seeds.

Obvious, yet so illuminating.

An apple probably came to mind for many of us when we thought of this definition of “core”. I don’t know about you but I’ve eaten my share of apples and thrown away the cores when finished.

Wait a minute! That can’t be it. “Core” Values aren’t meant to be thrown away.

Are they??

Who wants to be Johnny Appleseed?

I’m quite sure many of us were read or told the story of Johnny when we were still too young to peel our own apples.

Though the real Johnny (Appleseed) Chapman was actually a pioneering nurseryman, the story most of us know is of Mr. Appleseed traveling the world eating apples and planting the cores.

As the cores naturally degraded, the seeds inside were released from “captivity” and took root in the soil. Over the years, nature took its course and we ended up with apple orchards scattered throughout Creation (pun intended!).

Is there a moral to this story (or at least an end)?

Glad you asked.

Consider this… What would have happened to the apple seeds if there had been no core?

That’s right! Johnny would have swallowed them.

And then what?

Well if Johnny had lived in the age of indoor plumbing, the seeds would have ended up at the sewage treatment facility. What a tragic ending for the apple trees and orchards! Talk about things going down the toilet! 

I digress.

All this talk about apples is making me hungry…

Core Values: A Foundation for Growth

I think we’re all hungry – for attention, recognition, guidance, partnership, learning, growth, making a difference, and winning, to name a few examples.

The founders of Creation Technologies, Geoff “Applereed”, Dave “Pettiseed”, Paul “Appleclark” and Barry “Henderseed” understood this hunger.

Like many strong business leaders, they knew that in order for a company to satisfy these needs for its people, it would have to grow into a tree, and then eventually an orchard.

So they drafted a list of values that they thought would preserve and guide Creation through good and bad times.

Then they debated, re-drafted, consulted and debated some more.

And then . . . Creation’s Core Values were born!

Boldness, Entrepreneurship, Integrity, Openness, Preparedness, and Respect have been at the “core” of Creation’s success ever since. Every time we honor and live these values we plant seeds for the next trees.

Think of that the next time you eat an apple!

“Of cores” I’d like to hear from you!

Do you have personal Core Values? Family Core Values? What are they? How do you “connect to them” and live them? When is the last time you reflected on them? Is your “orchard” bearing fruit? What kind?

Your Work Is More Than Your Title

You Are More Than Your Title
You are far more than your title.

 

Does your role limit what you can do?

The responsibilities you were hired for probably determine the primary goals of your day-to-day work. But I’m a firm believer that they aren’t all that you can, or even should, do.
Imagine, for a moment, that you are a crane operator.

In this high-pressure role you are responsible for raising and lowering incredibly heavy loads based on instructions from a foreman.

One day, the foreman instructs you to lower the load to the ground. As you get ready to perform the task, you spy an abandoned vehicle precisely where the load will land. The foreman hasn’t seen the car. What do you do?

Think about it…then read onward.

 

Obviously, (hopefully?!), you don’t crush the car. But what else?

Would you try to figure out the root cause of the problem? Why the car is even there?

Is there an opportunity to improve the situation for next time? Maybe the signage directing work vehicles is misleading, or maybe there is a lack of security at the work site.

You could do only your assigned job, and in this case opt not to lower the cargo.

Or, you could make sure that vehicles are kept out of that area in the future and avoid another situation with a car where it doesn’t belong.

Which choice would you make?

Think about the role that you are in now.

Do you complete your work based on a precedent, or as you have been instructed? Is your current process based on the training you received from the person vacating the role, and was that person trained by the person before them?

A critical concept of Continuous Improvement is that the individual doing a task is most often the best person to figure out better ways of doing that task. Makes sense, doesn’t it?

So how often do you suggest changes to the way the work is done based on your own experience?

You can make a bigger contribution.

The job you do isn’t the only contribution you can make.

Look for opportunities outside of the scope of your role. Choose to realize improvements.

I think you’ll experience not only the success of making positive change, but also a level of job satisfaction and peer recognition that will prove that your work is more than your title.

What Is Company Culture? How Do You Measure It and Nurture It?

Annual Car Wash Fundraiser
Folks from Creation’s BC locations having fun at an annual Car Wash & BBQ fundraiser for The Boys & Girls Club and the children of Bulembu, Swaziland

What is the Creation Culture or Character?

If we do not have a firm understanding of what it is, how do we plan for it, measure it and understand what needs to be done to achieve it? How do we know we are progressing? Or are we already there?

Can you really put a hard number on a soft topic?

Great questions to be sure.

These were posed to me by a Creation team member following a recent People & Culture Scorecard input session. The People & Culture Scorecard is one tool we use to assess our progress on the journey of never-ending improvement in culture. It consists of several categories and includes some results from our People Survey, small-group interviews and review of observable data.

One of the areas of focus on the Scorecard is how we’re doing as Leaders, and in particular whether our Business Unit Leadership Teams take an active role in developing the Creation Culture.

So how do you define a Company Culture, or Character? How do you measure it?

I’m sure many of us at have had, or been asked, these same questions ourselves. My take on it is that I’m not sure if there is a “hard” answer.

I can understand the challenge of putting a “hard” number on a “soft” category like culture. In my mind, the Creation Culture, and a company’s culture in general, is simply “the way we do things around here”.

The way we think about people (paradigms), drives the way we act (behaviors), which drives the outcomes (results).

It’s the basic See-Do-Get model from Stephen Covey’s ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’.

If we truly embrace our Purpose and Core Values, it will affect, drive, and influence the way we see people. This will influence how we behave toward people. And together this will influence the results we get.

As part of a collective company culture, we have the ability to change the experiences of our teammates, suppliers, customers, family, neighbors, partners, etc., really everyone we interact with.

Building on Trust

Another way to look at it is that trust is the fundamental building block for teamwork, and trust requires trustworthy people.

Trustworthiness = Character + Competence

In this context, the company “Character” is one that exhibits the company’s Core Values and pursues its Vision.

How do we know where we are or if we have arrived?

 

First of all, let me say that at Creation we’ll never arrive because that would not be consistent with Continuous Improvement which is at the core of our Pursuit of Excellence® philosophy.

But in terms of judging where we are, we can ask ourselves some questions.

On a scale of 1 to 10, with “10” being the most amazing experience I could imagine and “1” being the worst:

  • How is my team doing at living our Core Values and pursuing our Vision of “Enriching lives by sustaining strong, profitable growth in an enjoyable and caring culture”?
  • How is my Business Unit doing?
  • How is the Business Unit Leadership Team doing?

On a scale of 1 to 10, with “10” being extremely well and “1” being extremely poorly:

  • How do we resolve conflict as a team;
  • As a Business Unit;
  • As a Business Unit Leadership Team?

There are many ways to identify and understand a company culture. Of course, it’s all relative to a point of comparison and so different people will have different answers.

The important thing to determine is “are we improving, staying the same or getting worse?” Where we are is not as important as where we are heading and the slope of the line.

What do think? What’s the slope of the line for your team? Business Unit or operating center? Company? Family? How are you contributing to culture in these environments?

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