296: Great business culture is observable in the interactions of its people with guest expert Kevin Oakes

Kevin Oakes, author of Culture Renovation: 18 Leadership Actions to Build an Unshakeable Company

Kevin Oakes and Bill Ringle discuss how business culture can be approached similar to a home renovation – perfecting one area at a time – for small business leaders.

>>> Visit MyQuestforTheBest.com for complete show notes and more expert advice and inspiring stories to propel your small business growth. My Quest for the Best is a top-rated small business podcast with over 300 episodes of thought-provoking and insightful interviews with today’s top thought leaders and business experts. Host Bill Ringle’s mission with this show is to provide the strategies, insights, and resources that will unlock the growth potential of your business through these powerful conversations.

Interview Insights

Top 3 Takeaways from this Interview

  • Only 15% of attempted culture change efforts are highly successful.
  • Progressive organizations view change not only as normal and expected but as an opportunity.
  • Senior management often bypasses the all-important planning phase and begins without garnering any insight from the workforce.

Read the Show Notes from this Episode

  • Kevin shared how his father influenced him to have a good work ethic and getting out of this comfort zone. [1:14]
  • The importance of agility as a key trait in a company. [9:30] 
  • Highlights culture change or transformation and company renovation. [10:09] 
  • He identifies some companies that he discussed in his book as companies who rested on their laurels. [10:38]
  • The kill the company community that will help your company stay competitive. [11:58] 
  • How successful companies are companies that view change as an opportunity. [13:28]
  • The top management should lead to culture change and discusses co-creation mentality. [14:18]
  • Kevin underlines the importance of checkin’ into the workforce regarding their organizational culture before checkin’ on your customers. [15:35]
  • He discussed that a successful CEO is not afraid to embrace change and they are transparent. [19:17]
  • Kevin points out that culture dictates performance. [19:54]
  • Calling attention to culture change laggards as a challenge and how to deal with them. [21:33]
  • Kevin discuss organizational technique analysis. [22:50]
  • My Quest for the Best Lightning Round begins [26:11]

Subscribe to Your Favorite Podcast App

Click to listen and subscribe to your favorite place to enjoy podcasts below so you are the first to know when a new episode is released.

My Quest for the Best is the podcast where ambitious small business leaders discover strategies and tactics to unlock their growth potential.

Give us a 5-star rating and positive review to make it easier for other small business owners to find and benefit from our work!

Expert Bio

Kevin Oakes is the author of CULTURE RENOVATION: 18 Leadership Actions to Build an Unshakeable Company (McGraw-Hill; Dec. 15, 2020). He is also the CEO and co-founder of the Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp), the leading authority on next practices in human capital. i4cp produces more research than any other human capital research firm on the planet. Supported by a powerful community of human capital practitioners, i4cp provides insights that help organizations better anticipate, adapt, and act in a constantly changing business environment.

Kevin is currently on the board of Performitiv, a performance improvement technology company. Kevin is also on the advisory boards of EdCast, a knowledge network firm, and Sanctuary, a health and wellness startup. Kevin was previously on the board of directors of KnowledgeAdvisors, a provider of human capital analytics software, which was purchased by the Corporate Executive Board in March of 2014. Kevin was also the Chairman of Jambok, a social learning start-up company that was founded at Sun Microsystems and was purchased by SuccessFactors in March 2011. He also served on the boards of Workforce Insight and Koru prior to their sales.

Kevin is on the board of Best Buddies Washington and helped establish the first office for Best Buddies in the state in 2019. Best Buddies is a nonprofit organization dedicated to establishing a global volunteer movement that creates opportunities for one-to-one friendships, integrated employment, leadership development, and inclusive living for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD).

Kevin was previously the Founder and the President of SumTotal Systems (NASDAQ: SUMT) which he helped create in 2003 by merging Click2learn (NASDAQ: CLKS) with Docent (NASDAQ: DCNT). The merger won Frost & Sullivan’s Competitive Strategy Award in 2004.

Prior to the formation of SumTotal, Kevin was the Chairman & CEO of Click2learn, which was founded in 1985 by Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft. Prior to joining Click2learn, Kevin was president and founder of Oakes Interactive in Needham, MA. Oakes Interactive was purchased by Click2learn (then called Asymetrix) in 1997, which Kevin helped take public a year later.

Contact Info and Social Media for Kevin Oakes

Resources Mentioned

Below are key people, places, books, quotes, websites and other resources that we discussed so you can explore further.

Published by Kevin Oakes

Culture Renovation: 18 Leadership Actions to Build an Unshakeable Company by Kevin Oakes


Scroll to Top