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Want to design a new culture for your business? | The Melting Pot Newsletter | Issue #101


Looking to scale-up your business?  Wondering where to start and how to put the right structure in place?  You could do worse than getting to grips with your culture.  For the past 10 or so blogs, this has been my main focus.  Quite simply, it’s vital.  Nothing will influence your future growth more than the culture you’ve built in your company.  I know this because I’ve lived it. Cultural changes made the biggest difference when I was MD of Rackspace and Peer 1. They enabled us to grow from zero to £30m within five years and through two recessions. 

You may already be familiar with the theory.  It all sounds great on paper.  But how to put it into practice?  That’s more tricky.  As a business growth coach, I’m constantly on the look-out for new tools and techniques to give my clients clarity.  For a while, I’ve been searching for something that brings all the elements of culture together into a framework for execution.  That search ended when I came across the Culture Design Canvas.

Modernising The Death Industry with Dan Garrett

Death is an unusual, fascinating and emotional area to work in. However, the industry hasn’t evolved much since the 1850s. Today’s guest, Dan Garrett, CEO and co-founder at Farewill, is on a mission to change that – to bring wills, probate and funerals into the 21st century. 

“[Will writing] is the most amazing industry because it’s basically the biggest consumer industry that’s been untouched by technology. It’s a multi-hundred billion dollar business globally. The industry looks and feels like it did in Victorian times.”

Having just raised £20 million in a Series B round and with their absolutely awesome recruitment process, Farewill is the UK’s leading tech firm in the death space, working to bring technology and an improved customer experience to a difficult time in everyone’s life.  Starting a business, raising funds and recruitment are all common topics for discussion on The Melting Pot. What makes this a truly unusual episode is the industry Dan is revolutionising.  From tech and the death business, to the incredible recruitment engine he’s built that gets the hiring process right 80% of the time, this is a really interesting discussion with useful points pertinent to all entrepreneurs.


You might think you know what it takes to lead a happier life… more money, a better job, or Instagram-worthy vacations. You’re dead wrong. Yale professor Dr Laurie Santos has studied the science of happiness and found that many of us do the exact opposite of what will truly make our lives better. Based on the psychology course she teaches at Yale – the most popular class in the university’s 300-year history -Laurie will take you through the latest scientific research and share some surprising and inspiring stories that will change the way you think about happiness.


In October 2008, the Royal Barrière Hotel in Deauville, France, was the backdrop for the annual conference of the Women’s Forum for the Economy and Society. I’d attended the conference before and had found it earnest and sedate, in keeping with the luxurious but faux-historic venue (the original hotel having been bombed to rubble during World War II). But in 2008 — one month almost to the day after the collapse of Lehman Brothers — rebellion stirred the air. Participants were abuzz with outrage at events that had gathered momentum in the previous months and then, with remarkable speed, led the global economy to the brink of collapse in September.


All organizations have rituals — from the mundane everyday routines (coffee breaks, tea time) to major, less frequent events like annual meetings and retirement parties. Smart leaders, however, recognize that rituals like these and others are levers for improving the organization’s performance and they take the creation and nurturing of rituals very seriously. It’s a subject that I study closely, focusing particularly on the lessons that can be found for business leaders from the world of sport. From that work I’ve observed that ritual acts on team performance in four ways:


We have all heard the advice: sleep more. I have given out this advice myself, based on strong empirically-backed science, which indicates that people are worse employees when they’re sleep-deprived — even leaders and even entrepreneurs.


Your words matter more than you think. Most of us use the language we inherited from a time when workers worked with their hands and managers worked with their heads. Today, your people do much more than simply follow orders. They contribute to performance and solve problems, and it’s time we updated our language to reflect that. In this book, former US Navy captain L. David Marquet offers a radical playbook to empower your people and put your team on a path to continuous improvement. The framework will help you achieve the right balance between deliberation and action, and take bold risks without endangering your mission. Among other things, you’ll learn:
· How to avoid the seven common sins of questioning, from binary questions (should we do A or B?) to self-affirming questions (B is the better option, right?)
· Why you should vote first, then discuss, when deciding on a plan with your team, rather than voting after discussion
· Why it’s better to give your people information instead of instructions


The secret to the success or failure of any business boils down to its culture. From disengaged employees to underserved customers, business failures invariably stem from a culture problem. In this book, acclaimed culture transformation expert and global executive Siobhan McHale shares her proven four-step process to demystifying culture transformation and starting down the path to positive change. Many leaders and managers struggle to get a handle on exactly what culture is and how pervasive its impact is throughout an organization. Some try to change the culture by publishing a statement of core values but soon find that, aside from some short-term lip service, no meaningful change happens. Others try to unify the culture around a set of shared goals that satisfy shareholders but find their efforts backfire as stressed employees throw their hands up because “leadership just doesn’t get it.” Culture transformation expert Siobhan McHale defines culture simply: “It’s how things work around here.” The Insider’s Guide to Culture Change walks readers through McHale’s four-step process to culture transformation.



If you’re a business leader with some or all of your staff working from home, get deliberate about creating opportunities for more junior staff to spend time with senior people. All the evidence points to the fact that staff who remain at home will be disadvantaged compared to those who return to the office.  Learning from senior colleagues is an important part of development.  You need to work out how you disseminate knowledge.  Maybe you could craft and share some stories of individual successes based on your purpose or BHAG. Recognise that some of your people will want to be promoted so you need to create opportunities for your senior staff to hang out with them.  Pulling together a cross-functional team into a working group to meet a challenge can work well. It will give you and your leadership the chance to identify the stars in your organisation.


Monkhouse & Company Summit, Foundry Farm – 15 September 2020

Join us for a day of learning, development and fun. We’ll be hosting 9 keynote speakers to talk about culture, strategy and execution.  They’ll also facilitate a workshop to help you put into practice what you’ve learned. Confirmed speakers include: Shannon Susko, author of 3HAG Way; Justin Roff-Marsh, author of The Machine; and Nic Marks, founder of Friday Pulse and the Happy Planet Index. We’re excited to see you here!

Monkhouse & Company Full-day Scaling Up Workshop, Foundry Farm – 16 September 2020

Bring your team to our one-day Scaling Up Workshop, where you will get the clarity you need to move forward, by identifying your strategy and achieve your 3-Year Highly Achievable Goal (3HAG). After this highly practical session, your team will leave with a clear-cut understanding of the purpose and core values that make your company unique and valuable.

Acetech Summit, Whistler – 14-16 October 2020 (re-scheduled)

An exclusive annual gathering of high-growth tech CEOs. This powerful three-day summit will transform how you define success and deliver growth in 2020 and beyond.

Quote of the week

‘We have a culture where we are incredibly self-critical, we don’t get comfortable with our success’.

Mark Parker, CEO, Nike.

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