Monthly Culture Inspiration: February 2017

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

Visual: How to Scale Up Without Losing Your Culture

Stephanie Gioia is the director of consulting at XPLANE. She recently published a post on XPLANE's blog about a common question XPLANE receives from its clients: "We were a start up and had an awesome culture. We grew fast and hired like crazy! Business was great, but one day people started saying, 'This doesn't feel like company we used to be.' Turnover started ticking up. Things began to feel political, like we're not on the same team. Now we're at a crossroads where we must start thinking about our culture for the first time."

Stephanie writes, "The good news is that these companies are not alone. All high-growth ventures hit a culture crisis and they all hit it at around the same place in their growth curve; about 2/3 of the way up." (See the visual above.) She explains in a beautiful, visual way why this happens and what organizations can do to improve their culture.

Book: Smarter, Better, Faster by Charles Duhigg

I finally read Charles Duhigg's latest book, Smarter, Better, Faster (published March 2016), which explores the science of productivity. Duhigg shares "eight key productivity concepts—from motivation and goal setting to focus and decision making—that explain why some people and companies get so much done." While I loved the personal productivity tips, Duhigg's insights about what makes organizations and employees especially productive were particularly insightful. For example, Duhigg writes, "Two economists and a sociologist from MIT decided to study how, exactly, the most productive people build mental models. To do that, they convinced a midsized recruiting firm to give them access to their profit-and-loss data, employees’ appointment calendars, and the 125,000 email messages the firm’s executives had sent over the previous ten months. The first thing the researchers noticed, as they began crawling through all that data, was that the firm’s most productive workers, its superstars, shared a number of traits. The first was they tended to work on only five projects at once—a healthy load, but not extraordinary. There were other employees who handled ten or twelve projects at a time. But those employees had a lower profit rate than the superstars, who were more careful about how they invested their time.... [The superstars] were signing up for projects that required them to seek out new colleagues and demanded new abilities. That’s why the superstars worked on only five projects at a time: Meeting new people and learning new skills takes a lot of additional hours." Fascinating.

Article to Bookmark: Culture Codes is a collection of 40 culture decks, core values, mission statements, and more from real companies. It's been popping up everywhere recently: it was forwarded around several times at my job, and has been trending in my social media feeds. Why? Before Tettra created this, there was no central place to find all these decks. This article is SUPER helpful for any organizations looking to get inspiration before creating their own culture code.