A Day In The Life of the CCO: A Chief Culture Officer To-Do List

Marissa Levin
Marissa Levin
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Tuesday was one of those rare days when I had the opportunity to actually hang out in the Information Experts (www.informationexperts.com) office for about 5 hours. I joined in some team meetings, eavesdropped on some brainstorming sessions, had a strategy session with my Creative and Development team, and basically just soaked up the energy and vibes that were flowing through our hallways.

Later that night, I reflected on where I focused my energy.

My priority list included these tasks:

  • Check in with our Good Times Committee (GTC) on the status of the annual Information Experts kick-off party that takes place every January, the annual Information Experts Halloween party, and the annual Information Experts Thanksgiving Pot-Luck luncheon and movie
  • Remind our Administrative Assistant to contact Reston Interfaith (www.restoninterfaith.org) about the Fall Coat Drive and Thanksgiving Basket Drive we support, and get that going in the office
  • Hold some discussions about how projects are going… the workings of the teams, the relationships with the customers, and the overall feeling of stress related to the projects.
  • Inquire about our Fall intern – how she is adjusting, is she finding the work to be meaningful, is this a successful match
  • Conducted a strategy check-in with some executive team members

These may seem to be trivial tasks…. after all, I wasn’t drilling anyone about profitability, project risk, sales quotas, resource utilization, overhead, billability, margins, or revenue. The truth is, when CEOs wear the hat of Chief Culture Officer, those essential elements don’t fall under our responsibility.

“The thing I have learned at IBM is that culture is everything.” -Lou Gerstner, Former CEO of IBM

If we take care of our people and our environment, the rest will take care of itself.

We can’t assume the culture is on auto-pilot. We need to do regular pulse-checks with our people. In an era of technology, processes, and systems… in a lifetime that has become app-driven, we have to protect the humanity of our companies. Our employees need to know we are checking the heartbeat of the organization on a regular basis, and that means gauging the happiness, engagement, and emotional health of those that support us.

The only thing of real importance that leaders do is to create and manage culture. If you do not manage culture, it manages you, and you may not even be aware of the extent to which this is happening.” – Edgar Schein, professor MIT Sloan School of Management

Our Fall intern recently joined our Social Media team. I joined in the candidate interviews because it personally matters to me to provide our future leaders with a positive and healthy organizational experience. I knew that my Social Media team leads would accurately evaluate for skills, education, knowledge, and experience compatibility. I was focused on the cultural fit.

I recently asked her why she likes working at Information Experts, Here is what she said:

I enjoy working here because it is different every day and I am able to be involved in so many different aspects of the company while still having a voice. For instance, I am on the social media team but also will be attending [a client] conference next week to help out. I like the mixture of being involved in marketing as well as the event planning/marketing aspect of the company. Also, I feel like I fit in with the “vibe” and with the other employees! It is just an all around interesting and fun place to work. I feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to work for a company that is in some aspects relaxed but that is extremely hard-working and very respected.

Bottom line… it’s a culture fit. Nothing matters like culture.

“Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” ~Peter Drucker.

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