by Trevor Lee

One of the hardest things I’ve done in my professional life is lead an organization through closing. There were a variety of factors that contributed to the decision–scarce resources, leadership burnout, internal dynamics, and more. Looking back, I know we made the right decision, but one of the hardest things to come to terms with is that it might not have had to be that way. Of course, I’ll never know for sure, but I do know it wasn’t until we moved toward closing that the full picture of both the healthy aspects and unhealthy aspects of our organization became more clear. By that time it was far too late to try and do anything about them.

Whatever the outcome for the organization, I know for sure we would have profoundly benefitted from a third-party culture assessment years before we closed. Here are three reasons why a culture assessment is so important.

Several years ago I was preparing for a trip to a large conference and decided it was a good time to update and order new business cards. At the time, I owned and operated two businesses. The first (Core Ventures) was new, exciting, and consumed most of my time and energy. I had big plans to disrupt the recruiting world and build something special, but we hadn’t even landed our first client or made our first hire. On paper it was real, but it was early. The second business was an outfitter my wife and I had opened up together several years prior. It had grown slowly and steadily but it wasn’t long before we realized we were not likely to make any real money so we both exited day to day operations.

I owned the majority of both entities, so I thought it would be a good idea to make a business card with one company on one side and the other on the flip side. Co-founder on one side and CEO on the other! How cool! At the conference, I handed out business cards like candy canes at Christmas eager to confirm that yes indeed, I was a really big deal.