Meet Margaret King – a cultural analyst who heads a think-tank studying human behavior driven by shared values (that is, culture). She consults leading organizations on why people behave as they do– at work and at home.
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We’re happy that you could join us today! Please introduce yourself to our readers. What’s your story?
Margaret King: I realize that culture is a far more productive basis for understanding human behavior than focus groups or marketing research. My group can answer the vital question of “why” things happen in the marketplace.
CEOs and leaders usually have different motives and aspirations when getting started. Let’s go straight to the beginning. What was your primary goal for starting your business? Was it wealth, respect, or to offer a service that would help improve lives?
Margaret King: As a former academic, I wanted to put my research ability to use to better explain human behavior in groups — which applied neatly to mass markets. My partner/husband is an expert in military intelligence. Together we have been able to answer many of the questions that keep marketing departments up at night, by looking at the history of human behavior over very long timeframes–thousands of years. Anything humans are doing now that we have been doing for that long is not going to stop tomorrow.
Tell us about 2 things that you like and two things that you dislike about your industry. Share what you’d like to see change and why.
Margaret King: Market research is trying to find out motivation and reward. That’s a good thing. It’s a big field and has uncovered many insights. Dislike: But these insights are not systematic or unified as a theory. They are scattered and isolated, rather than being a unified field theory of human behavior.
Companies around the world are rapidly changing their work environment and organizational culture to facilitate diversity. How do you see your organizational culture changing in the next 3 years and how do you see yourself creating that change?
Margaret King: Our organizational culture at Cultural Studies is very individually driven and independent. In that sense, we are ahead of the curve and have been for the past 2 decades. I see that as the future of research.
According to the Michigan State University “An organization’s culture is responsible for creating the kind of environment in which the business is managed, and has a major impact on its ultimate success or failure.” What kind of culture has your organization adopted and how has it impacted your business?
Margaret King: We treat everyone as a colleague, not an employee, which is going to increase as organizations flatten out. This provides a low-stress working situation, individually-driven and adjusted, which is the way I myself as Director choose to work. I don’t privilege my own behavior and I don’t expect anyone who works with me to do so, either.
Richard Branson once famously stated “There’s no magic formula for great company culture. The key is just to treat your staff how you would like to be treated.” and Stephen R. Covey admonishes to “Always treat your employees exactly as you want them to treat your best customers. What’s your take on creating a great organizational culture?
Margaret King: Colleagueship, as I’ve noted — I think it’s the best formula for relating professional-to-professional, and it’s also the way I want to operate. It’s also key to implementing DEI culture.
The overwhelming majority of more than 9,000 workers included in a recent Accenture survey on the future of work said they felt a hybrid work model would be optimal going forward, a major reason for that being the improved work-life balance that it offers. How do you promote work-life balance at your company?
Margaret King: Everyone works independently unless we need to convene because of the priority for interaction. We can do this remotely, but as everyone knows, there needs to be face time as well, because humans relate to the whole person, not just a face and voice.
How would you describe your company’s overall culture? Give us examples.
Margaret King: Intellectual and collegial. We use an academic model, without the oppression of Chairs and Deans. It seems to work well, given that those who work this way are mature and professional, to begin with.
It is believed that a company’s culture is rooted in a company’s values. What are your values and how do they affect daily life at the workplace?
Margaret King: Our values are respect for one another and a good work ethic to define problems and quickly determine how to handle them. As problem-framing is part of our remit, this isn’t a large order.
An organization’s management has a deep impact on its culture. What is your management style and how well has it worked so far?
Margaret King: Collegial – because I reinforce and hire for this value.
Every organization suffers from internal conflicts, whether functional or dysfunctional. Our readers would love to know, how do you solve an internal conflict?
Margaret King: Usually by a deep discussion targeting the real issues involved. It is amazing how enlightening it can be to identify the actual issues causing conflict. Once this happens, the answer presents itself — this was Einstein’s approach to physics.
According to Culture AMP, Only 40% of women feel satisfied with the decision-making process at their organization (versus 70% of men), which leads to job dissatisfaction and poor employee retention. What is your organization doing to facilitate an inclusive and supportive environment for women?
Margaret King: It’s just me (female) and an all-male staff; if anything, I run a female-dominated company.
What role do your company’s culture and values play in the recruitment process and how do you ensure that it is free from bias?
Margaret King: I am heavily biased toward intelligence in the people I engage — that’s not bias-free, nor should it be. I am deliberate about that. After that, I don’t care about diversity categories. Can the person do the job? That’s my only question.
We’re grateful for all that you have shared so far! We would also love to know if there was one thing that you could improve about your company’s culture, what would it be?
Margaret King: Find a way to detect the kinds of minds I want to hire and work with.
I’m working on a diagnostic for cultural analysts. It’s difficult to do this, and I don’t know how successful it will be.
This has been truly insightful and we thank you for your time. Our final question, however, might be a bit of a curveball. If you had a choice to either fly or be invisible, which would you choose and why?
Margaret King: Invisible – offers more opportunities for information-gathering.
To do both would be awesome!
Jed Morley, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Margaret King for taking the time to do this interview and share her knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Margaret King or her company, you can do it through her – Linkedin Page
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