WOW! All I can say is WOW!

It’s not often you get to talk to and hear one of the masters of Organizational Culture (OC) share how The OC Equation™ propelled them to uber-success as a leader. Tonight, during the FCCi Conference in Sarasota, FL, I had the privilege of talking to and listening to Horst Schulze share his story of unparalleled success as the Founder and CEO of The Ritz-Carlton Hotels and the new ultra-luxury Capella Hotels.

As I was listening to him, it was clear he, at 15 years old, as a bus boy in a hotel in Germany, had a catharsis – “we are ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen” and that revelation followed him throughout his assent to the top of the hotel industry. Taking this mantra with him throughout his career he revolutionized the hotel industry by living, sharing and institutionalizing his values and philosophies into the very fabric of his hotels.

It’s one thing to state your values and philosophies, anyone can do that. It’s quite another to passionately live your values and philosophies through your actions day in and day out. But for Mr. Schulze, it just common sense. His recipe for success is simple:

  1. Select people to live a dream not merely fill a function.
  2. Provide the right orientation that defines the dream and demonstrates the importance of every person on the team.
  3. Teach people the processes needed to be successful.
  4. Constantly sustain and reinforce the values and philosophies.

Even today, Mr. Schulze personally reinforces the values and philosophies of Capella Hotels by holding a morning meeting every day at 9:35 am with his entire team where every team member repeats one of the 24 points of service. Then, after 24 days, they begin again.

When asked why he has his team constantly repeat the 24 points, he simply asks, “Does everyone know who Coke is? Yes, well then why do they still have to advertise?” His message is clear, if you want employees to take the values and philosophies to heart and live them through their actions, they have to be constantly reinforced to be sustained.

For example, Point #11 isWhen a guest encounters any difficulties, you own it!” If a guest has a problem with a toilet and you’re a waiter, you own it. You respond I am so sorry for your inconvenience, I will take care of it – and then you go take care of it.

Naturally after hearing about these 24 points, several audience members, including myself, wanted a copy of the 24 points. But when asked, Mr. Schulze said, “I am happy to give them to you, but they won’t make any sense. I would have to explain them for them to make sense. You would read them and say, what does that mean?”

The key here for The OC Equation™ is that your values and philosophies have to be YOUR values and philosophies. They have to have meaning to YOU and your leadership team and you have to define and reinforce those to your employees on a regular basis. You can’t simply take another organization’s values and philosophies, display them on a wall and expect them to change your organization.