The past couple of weeks have been a whirlwind of quality business debates and conferences. From the annual IGD big event, through to The Grocer’s ‘How to build a brand’ conference each and all flagged just how important culture and great people are at all levels to the growth of a business.

All 130 who attended The Grocer’s conference last week could feel the huge buzz of expertise, passion and belief of the people in the room.

This was key to why many of the challenger brand businesses presenting were originally created and grown and continue to succeed (even in a recession). It came down to great people at the top of the business and throughout, who were recognised, inspired and recruited to realise the business vision.

This week too, while interviewing some thoughtful people from a leading DIY chain, it resonated when we heard the statement “Culture eats strategy”. In short, strategy is all well and good, but without great corporate culture and the right people it is impossible to drive more intuitively brilliant strategic thinking and growth. It was inspiring and flagged the need for a more ‘passionate’ people focus.

“Do we need to give people more of a sense of ownership early on?”

Looking back a couple of weeks, this idea was reinforced at the IGD when Bacardi spoke about how in a recession, family businesses thrive due to their genuine long-term passion and commitment to sustainable growth. It was also said that often corporation-grown individuals are just looking how best to make their mark and move on, which is a sad reality, often brushed over.

Buyers and category range reviewers are the same. When they go into self-realisation mode, with them goes insight, understanding and intellectual property. There’s no real love or loyalty for the business. Therein lies huge and stilting damage to growth. That doesn’t often happen in a family business. Do we need to give people more of a sense of ownership early on?

Or is this all about intrinsic versus extrinsic motivation? Is it time to give more focus to the people who feel naturally engaged and inspired and treat your business as their own, who will grow it naturally, intuitively and with conviction?

Is it time to give people who have a much better understanding and closeness to their customers and a genuine desire for the business the chance to grow your future rather than just feed a ‘process line’ of people?

The longest-standing businesses work as families do, with values and natural ambition. They weather storms and get through tricky times repeatedly and still grow, as so many businesses don’t.

Are you creating a culture of eat, shoot and leave?

Claire Nuttall is founding partner of Thrive