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Monday, August 28, 2006

Culture and Passion Are Key Drivers

The new Inc. 500 is out. According to one new inductee:

"It's definitely an honor to make the 500, and a nice boost to the team. But it definitely signifies a transition from scrappy disrupter to growth-oriented execution company. What keeps me up at night? It's not cash flow. It's not marketing. If I'm going to rant on any topic, it's culture."

  • We did a Stop/Start/Continue exercise recently ("what's one thing we should stop doing, one thing to start doing and one thing to continue doing?"), and 75% of the team said that we need to continue our passionate culture.

The big question then is how do you combine your aggressive growth plans without losing the culture that has defined you? What are the best practices?

  1. Take interviewing seriously: We have a detailed, consistent, structured process for finding the right people, (consider using behaviorial assessments)
  2. Accept change: We need to embrace the growth process and understand that some changes are inevitable. We want to operationalize the elements of culture that are most important so they don't get lost in the process.
  3. Market the culture: We write down what makes our culture great. Then share it, live it, update it. Do some internal marketing that reflects our core brand to keep people fired up about why the company is great....and that the mission has never waivered.
  4. Hire athletes: Great people that don't have the specific skill set ("athletes") are much better for us than good people with the exact skill set ("experts"). Athletes can be trained, but we can't train passion.
  5. Keep the magic: It's not about money -- money is the air we breathe to help us chase our goals. It's about a bigger mission.

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