I read the following quote over the weekend and it hit me like a box from Zappos, which I received over the weekend too. (And we all know how Zappos thinks about the concept of Culture. ) Here's the quote to which I refer:
"'We value integrity" means nothing. But tell a story about a former employee who hid his mistake and cost the company thousands, or a story about a salesperson who owned up to a mistake and earned so much trust her company doubled his order, and you begin to teach an employee what integrity means." A woman named Annette Simmons wrote that in her book, The Story Factor.
I do not know Annette, but she got my attention because there's so much talk these days about building culture and also, defining culture and what it tangibly means. However, if you're like me, hearing folks in the Valley/Alley talk about C triggers a huge "CLICHE WARNING" or, Poseur At Work signal. Mostly, the talk is exactly that, just talk. There is a clear vapidness engrossing these start-ups regarding C because they don't define what it means to their business and daily actions. And certainly the appointment of their happiest employee as Social Chairman doesn't qualify as a commitment to Culture!
Culture is one of those things that most companies think they are addressing, and/or think happens naturally if they have a good product or service. Too often, developing companies miss the importance of good Culture because their product offering is driving most actions and decisions in the organization. I get that there are 63 other emergencies going on every day inside internet start-ups, but Culture is rreeeaaaallly important because it's the heart and soul of how a company creates accountability! Companies who think they need to focus first on P (product) and then worry later about C are missing it, and missing out!