What Sets You Apart?

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What Sets You Apart?

By Jennifer Acevedo - 01/02/2013

We're all aware of it. We notice it as a customer and as an employee, when it's good and especially when it's bad. We know how important it is to our organizations, right?

George Bradt of PrimeGenesis called corporate culture, "The only truly sustainable competitive advantage" in a recent piece in Forbes magazine. Whole Foods Market's founder and co-CEO John Mackey told Retail Leader in an exclusive interview: "Our biggest challenge will always be culture and leadership, and making sure that we can maintain them."

Online apparel retailer Zappos takes its culture so seriously that at some point during a mandatory four-week training period each new employee is offered a $3,000 incentive to quit the job on the spot. According to reports, fewer than 3 percent of employees take the offer.

Retailers like Zappos and Whole Foods know exactly who they are and what their brands stand for. They have a clear idea of what their shoppers expect. They have taken meticulous care to articulate their core values, internally and externally.

Truth is, most of us aren't nearly as evolved. Most don't dispute the concept that good corporate culture equals happy team members equals loyal customers. Where it gets tricky is assessing where your organization falls along the continuum, and how senior leadership can be better ambassadors of your organization's culture.

Start by asking what the concept of culture means to your organization. Is it 50 words on your website or a page of smiling team members in the annual report, or is it what every member of your organization comes to work for every day?

A healthy culture pervades successful organizations. It fosters innovation and nurtures creativity, organically stimulating growth. It is a point of difference that cannot be duplicated by your competitors, and it must be embraced from the c-suite to the front lines. No easy feat, but critical, to be sure.


A healthy culture pervades successful organizations. It fosters innovation and nurtures creativity, organically stimulating growth.

– Jennifer Acevedo,

Editor-In-Chief
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