One of our fellow Heretics recently asked me if I have an opinion on company culture. To be precise his questions were: “What is company culture? And how important is culture in a company?”
Oh — the dreaded company culture. The thing which makes grown men cry and puke. The thing you put into your “New Employee Handbook”.
And here’s the deal: Company culture is incredibly important. Company culture is what makes your company — even if you don’t have one, you have one (just one which is not defined and thus often crap). The very best companies I know have spent a lot of thought and energy on their culture. The very best entrepreneurs not only create products but companies. And companies embody cultures. So you better take it seriously.
Company culture spans anything from how you think about your customers to the way you celebrate your wins and lick your wounds after losses. eBay famously made the following principle their first guiding principle: “We believe people are basically good.” — Can you see how much this influences everything you do? This principle is so influential and important that it is not only engrained in everything eBay did but it’s also burned into my brain forever.
When I ran Mozilla Labs we opened a bottle of champagne every time we shipped a product. Sometimes that meant that we opened a bottle at 10am and another one right before lunch and our last one at 4pm as the team kept cranking out the code.
A friend of mine runs a law firm. He insists on having fresh cut flowers delivered to his team assistant every other day. What does that say about the way he thinks and treats his team?
I can not emphasize this enough: If you want to build a company and not just a product you put as much thought into your culture as you put into your company.