“Culture eats strategy for breakfast.”

Peter Drucker

My daughter is super frustrated with her landlord.  She's a junior in college and lives in Austin with 7 other girls in a house they rent.  Their washer/dryer combo hasn’t been working for several weeks and that is fairly paralyzing for 8 college girls.

Despite the incredibly high Austin-ish rental cost and a professional management company that oversees the rental, they have had little luck remedying the problem.  My daughter called my wife and now "Momma Bear" is on the case.  I expect the crime being solved in a manner of hours now.

We rented for quite a few years before we bought.  One of the most beautiful things was that at the slightest interruption in service of any kind on that house, I could just call the landlord.  I remember the first few times things broke and wrestling with whether or not I should fix them or ask the owner.  I usually fixed them, but I could tell by the landlord’s reaction that this isn’t what people typically did.

When something breaks on something you don’t own, but you fix it anyway, you are no longer acting like a renter, but an owner.

David McKeown and his father coach a business model called “predictable success."  One of the concepts they talk about is whether or not an employee operates as an owner or a renter.

Renter - when they encounter a roadblock or a problem, they look around for who is going to remedy the situation for them.  They are literally paralyzed by the disruption.

Owner - simply goes about solving anything that gets in their path.  They only consult with the landlord after they have exhausted everything they can do to fix the problem on their own.

I used to work with a guy that rented houses well into his forties instead of buying.  He actually made a pretty compelling case for the return on investment of other things verses a home and the incredible incidental out-of-pocket expenses he saved.  He was very convincing.  I mean, I almost sold our house and I am not easily persuaded.

I’ll let you draw your own conclusions as to whether or not he operates with an owner or renter mindset at work.  (I am pretty sure he reads this blog!)

Even though most owners don’t understand this employ categorization methodology, they are all secretly hoping everyone would act like they do….like owners.  Ownership mindset isn’t born, but cultivated.  And interestingly enough, an ownership mindset has very little to do with equity distribution. (Interestingly, we are finding that many younger workers don’t want the burden or responsibility of actual equity).

Ownership mindset is cultivated through granting leadership authority, encouraging decision making, inspiring alignment around a powerful culture, and not micro-managing every decision team members make.  Giving them the opportunity to be imperfect.

  • Are your employees treating your “home” like their own?
  • Are they solving problems on their own without your complete oversight?
  • Do you find out after-the-fact that they encountered problems and overcame them?
  • Are you exhausted from doing everything yourself?