Behind every successful company, there’s a story of the culture that enabled its success. Company culture should permeate every aspect of an organization’s business — from its internal employee interactions to its external partnerships and beyond. Stories of culture and its larger impact on businesses and their partnerships were at the heart of Performance Horizon’s Innovation Day event in Sydney, Australia, last month.
At Innovation Day, over 200 partner marketers from across Australia and Asia came together to discuss the world of performance partnerships and the changing face of digital marketing. Under the theme of “The Culture of Innovation,” the event and its speakers addressed ways culture drives innovation internally and how this influences the partnerships formed externally to drive growth. Throughout the course of the event, the following themes unfolded.
How Culture Contributes to Growth
Very few successful companies arise in a vacuum. Many are built on the strength of great partnerships, which provide access to greater reach, new customers, innovative ideas and, ultimately, new revenue streams. One of the keys to finding partners that can fuel an organization’s growth is ensuring both entities are aligned from a cultural standpoint.
Panelist Paromita Mitra, Head of Digital Marketing at HP, discussed the ways in which culture determines the partners we choose to work with. “We try to reach new customers through different and new partnerships,” she said. “Partnering with brands like Unidays enables us to change brand perception and reach a different audience.”
Building a Culture for People
Growth strategies aside, all culture starts internally. If a company doesn’t build a solid cultural foundation within its own walls, how can it ever hope to project a culture of innovation outside its own borders?
Paul McCrory, Group Industry Director at Facebook, took to the stage to discuss Facebook’s cultural initiatives, including diversity in the workplace, as well as the ways Facebook helps brands to drive their own culture through technologies like Facebook for Work. “Everybody has a voice,” he said. “It’s about connecting people and encouraging people to have diversity of thoughts. Initiatives like Facebook for Work are specifically designed to give brands a space to be themselves culturally as well as functionally.”
Using Culture to Innovate
In today’s age of disruption, nearly every company is challenged by the need to stay relevant. Companies that build innovation into their cultural fabric have a significant advantage when it comes to adapting to an evolving marketplace and keeping up with competitors. That culture of innovation can manifest in many ways.
Michael Ellis, Head of Culture at Vinomofo, discussed Vinomofo’s growth and the ways that internal culture has changed and developed as the business has scaled. “Our culture keeps evolving as we evolve,” Ellis said. “We create a culture that encourages both innovation and recognizes that some innovations will fail. We encourage risk-taking and try to normalize and celebrate failure — it’s going to happen.”
This was also echoed by keynote speaker Cliff Rosenberg, former MD of LinkedIn ANZ & SEA. “Seek out diversity — don’t hire people who are like you,” Rosenberg said. “A great way of staying competitive and innovative is to ask yourself how you could disrupt your existing company. Think of yourself as a competitor to your existing business model and don’t be afraid to innovate and change.”
The Culture of Partnerships
The culture of a given company should inevitably translate to the culture of its partnerships.
Deeps De Silva, Head of Marketing for APAC and Japan at Dropbox, spoke about driving a local culture when you’re operating as a global business. He also highlighted the importance of customer-first partnerships, as evidenced in Dropbox’s partnerships with Microsoft, Adobe, and other best-of-breed SaaS tools.
“At Dropbox, we take a user-first approach to partnerships,” De Silva said. “Our values are at the core of everything we do, and we want to ensure our partners match these values and create an improved experience for our customers.”
Rosenberg also highlighted the role culture plays in partnerships, from his vantage point as a board member of Afterpay, an ASX listed payments platform. Cliff spoke about being creative in partnerships and driving a win-win focused culture that encourages your employees, customers and clients to drive your partnerships.
“Afterpay forms partnerships with brands our customers want to shop with,” Rosenberg said. “We want to make sure our partners are aligned with both our brand and our customer’s values.”
Conclusion: Culture as an Unstoppable Competitive Advantage
Collectively, these perspectives on culture underscore the very real sense that a great company culture becomes an unstoppable advantage for your business. It helps you attract people who want to live the values. It attracts partners that share your vision and worldview. And just as importantly, it gives customers a reason to buy and believe in what you do.