This video, done by the fine people at RSA animate, was doing the rounds a few months ago but it really strikes a chord with me so I thought I’d re-share it here.

When I rule the world this will be mandatory viewing for anyone in a management position.

Company culture is set by its founders, and this can be one of the hardest things to get right. As a company grows the culture and humanity of a company tends to get diluted, and hierarchy and middle management put in place. Companies which have a failing culture (which I define as a company whose employees by and large hate going to work), have among their many failings a number of things in common.

Firstly, they all tend to have fairly deep hierarchies with layers of unnecessary abstraction between those in charge of strategic planning and those doing the actual work. Secondly, those at the coal face, so to speak, don’t feel as though they have any control of their own destiny and that their ideas don’t matter.

Companies which seem to do well, certainly those I’ve worked with where I’ve got the most enjoyment out of the interaction, listen to those in their employ and empower them to act on their own initiative to solve problems. They have flat hierarchies, value and give credit publicly to those that made a contribution.

While it is often raised as being a primary issue when workers are dissatisfied, money is generally a proxy for other issues.

2 thoughts on “Company Culture

  1. I’m convinced that the solution to this is being a service-orientated worker. If you’re able to manage your own time, work with others in a collaborative way, empathize with the customer and understand the importance of product / service quality on a level that transcends your own assumptions and context, then you need to be managed much less. Folks who can’t empathize with people who have different skills and backgrounds, or who aren’t team players, need to be managed.

    In other words, hire the right people and treat them well. That’s what it always comes down to.

  2. It always seemed a little counter productive to hire people and force them to conform to your way of doing things – surely you hired them for a reason, so you should trust them to get on with things?

    Personally, I like the cooperative model. If everyone views themselves as a free agent collaborating on a given project (the company) then things tend to be a little more equal.

    Contrast going into a company as an employee vs the first time you went in as a consultant.

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