How do you make the people who make the thing?

When corporate culture is unhealthy, corporate performance is weak.

“When corporate culture is unhealthy — when people are not aligned and are disconnected from one another — corporate performance is weak.”

Does this sound like common sense? It's taken from Waterstone Human Capital's 2006 Canadian Corporate Culture Study, words the firm likens to the similarly common sense observation that a good diet and regular exercise makes for a happy, productive person. And yet in both cases, we often fail to take the advice.

In that vein, Canadian Business Online is pleased to next week introduce a biweekly column penned by Waterstone's Managing Director, Marty Parker, where we'll provide guidance for business leaders who want to create and maintain a healthy, innovative corporate culture. And we're betting that's every one of you.

However, it's not about lecturing you on how to avoid white-collar malfeasance. The law is the law and we give you credit for already knowing it. Instead we're talking about the less tangible — but equally important — variables that go into making a good business a great business.

The core discussion will be built around what Parker has defined as the “Seven Forgotten Principles of Organizational Health and Performance” — beginning with defining your corporate culture and ending with sustaining that culture.

Within that context we're talking about creating a culture that takes innovation as its cornerstone. How do you get it? How do you know it when you see it? How do you nurture it and how do you get it to show bottom-line results? To get you the insight you need, Parker will be tackling a variety of subjects, including how to hire for the right “cultural fit” and how to deal with the impact on your organization of mergers and acquisitions.

If you're running a small business, you'll want to stay tuned to find out how you can bring an innovation culture to a shop where you may not have access to hundreds or thousands of minds. And of course, there will be plenty of information on the business of recruiting and strategies for creating a culture of innovation in a wide variety of business circumstances.

It's more than just theory. At the end of the day you're going to want physical results and Parker will show you how to get that through measuring, response and reward techniques. But first things first. In his opening column next week, Parker will show you how to understand who you are as a business (your culture and its strengths and weaknesses) and how to define your desired culture (your mission and values).

Most CEOs admit they haven't tapped the full potential of their workforce. After all, before you make the new thing, you have to make the new people.

So let's get started.