Culture: The Good. The Bad. The Awesome.

February 3, 2014

Culture. Few words in business are more misunderstood, misused and abused than the word "culture." Some leaders think culture is touchy-feely bullshit made up to make HR professionals feel important. Others believe culture is defined by flip-flops, free food or a ping-pong table in the break room. Increasingly, however, as a new generation of talent seeks to work with a sense of greater purpose, culture is starting to become a central part of a company's overall strategy.

The thing about culture, is that it happens. Whether or not you are doing anything about it. Working at your company inevitably will be described in terms more to do with how people communicate and treat each rather than with compensation, perks and shuttle buses. The bits of content below provide some great examples of how companies are making culture a centerpiece of their overall strategy... and winning.

The Importance of Culture in Startups

My understanding and appreciation for the role that culture plays in a company's success or failure started over a decade ago. It had nothing to do with beanbag chairs or Nerf guns and everything to do with fried chicken feet.

Culture Vs. Strategy is a False Choice

A great culture, alone, is not the answer. Without a sound business strategy, it won't matter how culturally aligned your team is. Bob Frisch (rightly) takes on the assertion that culture eats strategy for lunch in this blog post on Fast Company.

The Culture Mother Lode

While Netflix didn't invent the idea of culture as a strategic advantage, it certainly helped popularize the notion by publishing a 126-slide internal document in 2007. Sheryl Sandberg described the deck as the most important document ever to come out of the Silicon Valley. Recently, SlideShare created Culture Code, a public share space where companies can post their own culture deck. In just a couple of weeks, over 50 inspiring documents have been shared by companies such as Fab, HubSpot, Spotify, Zappos and Glassdoor.

What Really Motivates Performance

This 10-minute video presentation by author Daniel Pink is both incredibly insightful and very entertaining. It captures the core tenets of his book, Drive, which describes a new model of performance motivation that has very little to do with cash compensation. Spoiler alert: it has something to do with culture.

And... In Case You Missed It

Joe Namath is still awesome.