Ron Kaufman, Keynote Speaker [PODCAST]

Podcast Summary

We got a chance to catch up with Ron Kaufman,  world’s leading educator, and motivator, author of the book, Uplifting Service, and fourteen other books on service, business, and inspiration, about Organizational Culture and best practices.

Podcast Transcript

This is a recording by Ron Kaufman for GroSum. The interview is based on a series of questions.

What does organizational culture mean to you?

Organizational culture is the way people work together, what they focus on, what they agree upon, how they commit to working together. Organizational culture is all of the activities and the commitments and the language that exists, that align people and keep them focused and dedicated to a common goal. Organizational culture is all of the mechanisms that recognize reward and courage, and able and support and promote what the organization is committed to achieving.

What are the major determinants of organizational culture?

In my New York Times best-selling book “Uplifting Service”, I introduce an architecture that we refer to as the uplifting service architecture. It looks like a house, now imagine a house with three components, a foundation, a roof, and then everything in between. The foundation we refer to as the need for continuous service improvement. This means teaching everyone in the organization what service really means, what service excellence is, and then giving them the tools and the principles and the time and the focus workshops to be able to apply those principles to specific internal and external situations, so that they may always continue to improve their service, the value and the quality that they provide. In the roof is what we refer to as service leadership, and there are seven rules of uplifting Service Leadership behaviors. Those rules must be followed and must be lived by the leaders in an organization every day. They provide direction and protection for the organization. In between the roof and the foundation is what we call the 12 building blocks. These are 12 areas of activity that surround and embrace every employee every day. For example, Who do you recruit? How do you select? How do you interview? How do you orient and onboard the new people that you choose? What’s recognized and rewarded within the organization? How do you communicate with everyone throughout the organization? How do you capture the voice of the customer and share it with the people who need to hear it, etc. etc. etc.? I’ve given you a few examples, but in fact, there are 12 fundamental building blocks. Now, all of these, the foundational principles for service improvement, the seven rules of leadership behavior, and the 12 building blocks can be discovered in the book “Uplifting Service” and can also be learned about in greater depth at our website

What is the role of employees in organizational culture?

That’s a terrific question because sometimes people think it’s the leader’s job to develop the culture and they’re not wrong, but it’s not only the leader’s job. The leaders have their role to play providing vision and guidance, and empowerment, and enablement, and being great role models for the culture of service in the organization. But each and every person who works inside the organization also has a role and a responsibility that they must execute every day. So their role is to come to work, never saying, I’m just here to do my job instead saying, I am here to do my job. I know that the purpose of my job is to take action to create value for someone else, which is our definition of service and the culture of this company requires continuously stepping up to improve the value and quality of service we provide. That’s the role of every employee.

What are the common problems associated with managing organizational culture?

I’m not sure I would use the word managing here as much as I would call it cultivating, encouraging, stimulating, provoking. It’s not something to simply be managed like a spreadsheet or a budget. It’s an alive phenomenon that must be cared for and nourished and nurtured. Now the common problems occur when people think, well, the culture that’s just HR’s job and leave it to the human resources department. Far from it, Organizational culture is everyone’s role and must be seen as the responsibility of everyone in the organization. Another common problem within an organization is when there are legacy practices, things that are left over from previous times where when people say, why do we do that? The answer is because we’ve always done it that way, or that’s the way the boss taught me how to do it without ever questioning and evaluating and really reviewing to see what are the archaic leftover legacy practices that should be purged, or at least updated, refined and improved, and then what new best practices or next practices can be brought in and implemented in the culture, again, in the book “Uplifting Service” and at the website, the listeners to this recording can find so much more details, specific examples, case studies, best practices and action steps. I welcome you to visit and look forward to seeing you there.

What are some ways to innovate in company culture? Do we have any best practices to share?

Absolutely. As you can imagine from doing this kind of work for 30 years, I have hundreds of best practices to share, but allow me to share with you right now, just one. It’s the importance of crafting what we call an engaging service vision. In articulation in the language of what the organization is committed to. What do you stand for? What are you gonna make happen in the world? For example, at Singapore airlines, they use the phrase service, even other airlines talk about, wow. Think of how proud that makes the employees feel how ambitious they are to go out and show the world with this little company with what’s now a very well known and very profitable airline can do. The Ritz Carlton Hotel calls it Their credo, and it goes like this. We are ladies and gentlemen, serving ladies and gentlemen, what a classy, elegant, sophisticated way in just one sentence to say who we are and what our vision is for the kind of service we provide. Now, there are so many others, Nokia networks uses this one,  know how, act now, create wow. Doesn’t that make sense? Wipro calls theirs, proactive value, adding service partners. They don’t react, they’re proactive. They don’t just meet the service level agreement, they add value and they’re certainly not a vendor, they’re a value adding service partner. There are so many more examples like these that I could share, but what’s important is, what is yours? Do you have an engaging service vision? Does everyone know what it means? Do you bring it to life every day? Once again, you can find more about this in the book “Uplifting Service” at the website You can find me on youtube, just look for Ron Coffman and add the word service. Thanks for being here to today. Have an uplifting day where you are.

About the interviewee

Ron KaufmanRon is the world’s leading educator and motivator for uplifting customer service and Uplifting Service cultures. He is the author of the book, Uplifting Service, and fourteen other books on service, business, and inspiration. Ron is rated one of the world’s top twenty-five “Hot Speakers” by Speaker Magazine for his high energy and high content presentations. He has been featured in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, USA Today and on TV.

Ron is a man on a mission – to uplift the quality and spirit of service everywhere in the world –including with us here today.


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