Monthly Culture Inspiration: February 2018

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

What is Company Culture

Visual: Alfred Lin's Culture Slides

Alfred Lin is a VC at Sequoia Capital, and formerly was COO an Chairman Zappos with Tony Hsieh. When he guest lectured for Sam Altman's ‘How to Start a Startup’ class at Stanford, he defined what culture is and why it’s important. You can watch the entire lecture here on YouTube, or see a few of the slides on kissmetrics' blog

Book: Great at Work: How Top Performers Do Less, Work Better, and Achieve More by Morten Hansen

Why do some people perform better at work than others? To answer this question, Morten Hansen conducted a five-year study of more than 5,000 managers and employees, and found seven "Work Smarter Practices” that anyone can use to perform better. I love books that give recommendations based on real data, and Great At Work is definitely rigorous and research-based. For example, one work smarter practice is: "Top performers collaborate less. They carefully choose which projects and tasks to join and which to flee, and they channel their efforts to excel in a few chosen ones. They discipline their collaboration." Hansen looks at each practice from an individual and an organizational level. He writes, "Organizations and employees struggle with twin sins: undercollaboration and overcollaboration. Some people talk too little across teams and departments, and some people talk too much." There are so many more good nuggets and tips in the book.

Article to Bookmark: The Culture Factor in Harvard Business Review

In this month's issue of Harvard Business Review, HBS professor Boris Groysberg dives into culture. Groysberg writes that leaders can use both strategy and culture as levers to make organizations more effective, but often leaders know how to shape strategy more than they know how to shape culture. Culture confounds leaders because it is more elusive. But Groysberg writes, "It doesn’t have to be that way. Our work suggests that culture can, in fact, be managed. The first and most important step leaders can take to maximize its value and minimize its risks is to become fully aware of how it works. By integrating findings from more than 100 of the most commonly used social and behavioral models, we have identified eight styles that distinguish a culture and can be measured." The eight styles are based on how people in an organization respond to change (do they value stability or flexibility) and how they interact with other people (do they value independence or interdependence). The eight styles are: caring, purpose, learning, enjoyment, results, authority, safety, and order. In the article, Groysberg gives examples of organizations for each type, as well as four levers for evolving culture. Read more here.