Going through the news this morning, I came across another Wells Fargo scandal .. this time with forced placed auto insurance. It seems for whatever reason auto loan borrowers received unwanted auto insurance coverage, unbeknownst to them added to their account by the lender, Wells Fargo. The article continued with an accounting of how many people were affected and how many incurred severe adverse financial consequences (including repossessions) due to higher than agreed upon monthly payments.

This story is just a symptom of a bigger problem … a serious corporate culture problem. As I was thinking about this, I realized that this type of culture problem can occur in any size business, and not just a “corporate” environment. Cultures of greed, short-cuts, shoddy work/processes, & dishonesty can occur anywhere. In addition to being a huge liability risk, it is just poor business practice that can limit overall growth potential.

Years ago, being new to an area I needed an electrician. I called around and found a company that could come install a fan for me at a rental property. We agreed upon a price and got it scheduled. The technician came a little late, which was a bummer but forgivable. But low and behold when I received the invoice, it was well over the agreed upon price. When I called the owner to mention the error, he became a little belligerent and yelled the words I will never forget … “I can charge you whatever I want!” Hmmmm …. In my mind, this is the same issue – just on a much smaller scale.

Culture sets the tone for everything in a business and processes or procedures solidify the culture. For example, a company’s culture is the like the design & architecture plans of a building; the policies, processes & procedures are the actual walls, roof, & building itself … the tangible representation of the vision and just as important as the vision itself

So, how do we fix a systematic problem in any company?

  • Start with culture: The goal here is to determine what you want your company’s culture to be. The good news is there are books and articles EVERYWHERE that can help you start the discussion or start thinking about it.
  •  Move to processes & procedures … are these in line with the new culture & vision? Every interaction between employees, employees & customers, employees & management, management & customers should be analyzed to make sure they are aligned with the new culture & vision. If something in your current procedure is amiss, amend the process now.

The beauty is … everything is fixable.