For many of you, today is just another day – August 1, 2019.
For those of us at Premier International, the start of August always marks some important milestones:
- Today is the day we welcome in our new class of Associate Consultants, some of the “best of the best” who are starting or continuing their career with us.
- Today is also the first day of our new fiscal year, a chance for us to celebrate what’s new and what’s next for our company over the next 12 months.
- And today is the 34th anniversary of the founding of our company by Jim and Dune Hempleman, a day of intense pride as we celebrate our history and heritage.
We look forward to August 1 every year as it provides the perfect balance of where we have been and where we are going.
While we have evolved as a firm, the one constant over the last 34 years has been the culture of our firm. I believe it is the single most important element behind our longevity and success over the last three decades, and will be the reason we are going to experience unparalleled success and growth in the coming decades.
We all have heard that “Culture eats strategy for breakfast,” and there’s a ton of writing on company culture, from books to blog posts to Tweets and everything in between. There’s no dearth of resources to explore if you want to understand how to build and sustain your company culture.
And don’t kid yourself. Every company has a culture – whether they can articulate it or not. It’s the ethos of the firm, the DNA that makes your company unique. Culture happens over time. It is shaped by management and lived out by the team.
When I joined Premier last year, I spent time exploring and understanding the culture of the firm. There was something special about this company and I quickly realized that my job, as the new CEO, was NOT to change the culture but rather to leverage our unique DNA to help us become an even better version of ourselves, both individually and collectively.
My exploration led me to uncover four key elements of our culture that help make Premier who it is:
1. Grounded in ethics
Jim and Dune founded the company on a Code of Ethics that still guide our work today. The code is simple yet profound:
- Adhere to the highest ethical standards
- Place the client’s interest first
- Serve all clients with excellence
- Maintain a professional attitude
- Preserve the client’s confidence
These are not just words on paper to us. This is our foundation, the rock of our existence. We hire for these ethics. We expect 100% commitment to these ethics. We celebrate and reward them. If one were to list out our core values, ethical would be at the top of that list.
While the concept of being ethical might be considered table stakes to many, that’s unfortunately not the case at so many companies. We are proud of this commitment and stand firmly on the foundation of our Code of Ethics in all that we do.
2. Relentlessly client-focused
Our commitment to our clients and their success is second-to-none. We will do anything within our power to help a client succeed. Whatever it takes, whenever it’s needed – that’s our mantra. Sure, it’s led to late nights, weekends and even less revenue or profit at times. But it’s all in the spirit of serving our clients.
Perhaps the best example of our client-focus is the Go-Live bell that hangs in our office. In other companies, a bell is rung when that company has a success (e.g., a new sale is made). At Premier, we ring the bell when our clients have success, namely in the form of a Go-Live on a technology implementation. We celebrate their success, not ours. It’s a very tangible reminder that when the client is successful, all the other pieces seem to fall in place.
3. Committed to impeccable delivery
We own a critical task in any system deployment – to migrate data from an old, legacy system into a new target system. It’s perhaps the riskiest part of any technology implementation: Gartner states that 83% of all data migration projects either fail outright or cause significant cost overruns.
If we don’t deliver on our commitments, tens of millions of dollars of investment can be wasted. The pressure is on, all the time, to deliver a successful migration with accuracy and timeliness.
And deliver we do! Every single one of our projects over the last 34 years has gone live – yep, 100% success rate. That’s a lot of bell ringing! More importantly, it means that our clients know they can count on us to deliver on our promises and commitments, eliminating that portion of project risk for them.
There are a number of reasons why we have this impressive track record – from our incredible team of consultants to Applaud®, our proprietary software that is optimized for this work, to our decades of experience in anticipating and solving complex data migration challenges.
Our culture is built upon delivering excellence and success in every project, every time.
4. Rooted in fun
There is a heavy dose of fun at Premier that I have not experienced other places that I’ve worked and led.
I am not talking about the artificial fun that may come with a foosball table or beer fridge (although both ideas have been mentioned here!). I am talking about genuinely enjoying being with each other and how that manifests itself on a daily basis.
Whether that be the regular lunch gathering in the kitchen to the sudden appearance of miniature Ed Grimley in a remote location to our annual lake party gathering – our team just enjoys being with each other, and it shows in their interaction and engagement.
The laughter, the challenges, the candor and the camaraderie. It’s hard to describe, yet palpable when you experience it. It’s the final piece that makes us unique.
Those four characteristics, when looked at individually, could apply to many companies and cultures in the business world. But the unique combination of all four of them, honed over the last 30+ years by Jim, Dune and the team, makes Premier who we are today … and who we will be tomorrow.
I mentioned that we don’t celebrate our own accomplishments or “ring our own bell” very often … or very well. That said, I am incredibly proud that our company was recently recognized as one of the “Best and Brightest Companies to Work For®” in Chicago this year. It’s a reflection of the culture described above and a significant validation of how special this place is.
Every once in a while, it’s okay to step back and celebrate what makes your company awesome. Today is that day for me.
Happy August 1, everyone.