The primary thing that any technology startup must do is build a great product. The second thing that any technology startup must do is to take the market. If you fail to do both of those things, your culture won’t matter one bit. Culture does not make a company. On the flip side, designing a proper company culture matters to the extent that it helps you achieve the above goals. As companies grow, culture can help you preserve your key values, make the company a better place to work and help it perform better in the future.
Summary / Gist
Any technology startup must focus on building a winning product. It must also focus on speed to secure market leadership. Culture won’t matter much, if the company fails at these things.
Culture does not make a company.
But there are three reasons why companies should still care for getting culture right:
- It matters to the extent that it can help achieve the above goals.
- Culture can help preserve key values, make the company a better place to work and help it perform better in the future.
- Perhaps most importantly, after going through the inhuman amount of work that it will take to build a successful company, it will be an epic tragedy if the company culture is such that even the founders don’t want to work there.
In building culture, it is important to know that most of what will be retrospectively referred to as the company’s culture will not be designed in, but will evolve over time based on the behavior of the founders and the early employees. Therefore, looking for and focusing on a small number of cultural design points that will influence a large number of behaviors over a long period of time is crucial. Ideally, a cultural design point will be trivial to implement, but will have far reaching behavioral consequences.
Startups today do all kinds of things to distinguish themselves. Many great, many original, many quirky, but most of them will not define the company’s culture. Offering yoga for your team is a perk not culture. Rather create things that connect to the business in a distinguishing way and truly help reinforcing core/deeper [business-related/strategic] values. Coming up with things that provoke a certain level of shock is a great mechanism for behavioral change. Be sure that mechanism agrees with the company’s values.