Monthly Culture Inspiration: November 2017

Every month, I post three types of culture inspiration: a visual, a book, and an article to bookmark.

Visual: Culture Drives Performance

Vega Factor, a culture consulting firm created a video that explains how culture drives performance. I love the visuals and message.

Book: Principles by Ray Dalio

In Principles, Ray Dalio, founder of Bridgewater Fund, shares what he’s learned about life, management, and culture. Here are some of my favorite highlights about organizational culture.

  • "An organization is a machine consisting of two major parts: culture and people. Each influences each other, because the people who make up an organization determine the kind of culture it has, and the culture of the organization determines the kinds of people who fit in. A great organization has both great people and a great culture. Companies that get progressively better over time have both. Nothing is more important or more difficult than to get the culture and people right." Dalio talks about how important it is for organizations to evolve by looping: converting problems into progress. 
  • "Build the organization around goals rather than tasks. Giving each department a clear focus and the appropriate resources to achieve its goals makes the diagnosis of resource allocations more straightforward and reduces job slip." For example, make sure that your marketing department is different than your client services department. 
  • Dalio writes, "Make departments as self-sufficient as possible so that they have control over the resources they need to achieve their goals. We do this because we don't want to create bureaucracy that forces departments to requisition resources from a pool that lacks the focus to do the job."
  • "Ensure that the ratios of senior managers to junior managers and of junior managers to their reports are limited to preserve quality communication and mutual understanding." Dalio recommends not higher than 1:10 and preferably 1:5.
  • Dalio also recommends, "Consider succession and training in your design. To ensure success that your organization continues to deliver results, you need to build a perpetual motion machine that can work well without you." This involves create a succession pipeline and training new leaders who preserve the culture and values.

Article to Bookmark: What Your Company Culture Needs at 10, 100 and 1,000 Employees

This helpful article from Culture Summit shares a few key things that every company culture needs at its critical stages of growth: 10, 100, and 1,000 employees. Learn how your approach to managing company culture needs to change as your organization grows.

Illustrators I Love Who Work for Organizations I Love

In my last post, I mentioned my love for Alice Lee, the creator of Slack's website illustrations. In addition to Alice Lee, there are several other illustrators who I love who are doing great work for organizations I love.

Here are some of my faves:

Tomi Um

I first found out about Tomi when I worked at Casper. Tomi did several rounds of ad illustrations for Casper, and she's also done work for Google Docs.

Rebecca Mock

Rebecca has done illustrations for Airbnb, as well as many other publications. In this series, she focused on moments of arrival during travel.



Felicia Chiao

Felicia Chiao is an industrial designer at IDEO by day, and an illustrator at night. You can see what's inside her Moleskine in this IDEO blog post.



Or Gotham

Or Gotham does illustrations for Warby Parker, among many other clients. Perhaps most notably, he illustrated Warby Parker's 2014 Annual Report (see sample report here). Read more about Or on Warby's blog here.

Ping Zhu

Ping Zhu does illustrations for Airbnb, Delta, Warby Parker, AMEX, and Slack. Below is an illustration of a NYC neighborhood for Airbnb, and a food illustration for Delta.


Liz Fosslien

Liz Fosslien is an illustrator and is also my co-author of the forthcoming book about feelings in the workplace (as well as my co-author for numerous other articles). Below are illustrations she's done for Salesforce, Stanford's, and LinkedIn.


Wendy MacNaughton

Wendy writes her own books and does illustrations for the New York Times and other media outlets, but still manages to have time to do the occasional commissioned work. She did several wonderful series for Genentech (here and here).


Who are some of your favorite illustrators?