Two Stories About Culture

Two companies were born on the same day with dreams to change the world – Clouders Inc and WWaalls Inc.

Company A

Employees for Clouders Inc found the following sheet along with the offer letters they received –

Our organization inspires entrepreneurial culture where creativity is valued over conformity, cooperation is believed to lead to better results than competition, and effectiveness is judged at the system level rather than the component level. The key elements of our culture are

* People and empowerment focused
* Value creation through innovation and change
* Attention to the basics
* Hands-on management
* Doing the right thing
* Freedom to grow and to fail
* Commitment and personal responsibility
* Emphasis on the future

We blend this with our constructive values built on four pillars – Achievement, Self-actualization, Humanistic-Encouraging and Affiliative. Constructive cultures urge members to work to their full potential, resulting in high levels of motivation, satisfaction, teamwork, service quality, and sales growth.

Company B

Founders of WWalls Inc. had not studied the business formally and were not aware about what organization culture stood for. Nevertheless they listed down some points –

What are our priorities? Our strategy is to delight customer by providing mind-blowing services and sell our products if they want them. Our strategy is not to sell products to maximize profits. All priorities shall be driven from this strategy of the organization.  It is important that strategy is imbibed into the organization. With clear set of priorities defined, members can prepare checklists for themselves and take better decisions which are in the best interests of the organization.

– How are people rewarded? Solely on the basis of performance. Number of hours or number of weekends put in does not matter. Even the processes are not that significant in evaluating the performance. Although, it is difficult to judge the performance, we shall strive to be as good as possible in evaluating. Good people shall be rewarded with a fat paycheck. No stock options, no fancy promotions. Only fat paychecks. If they wish, they can buy the stock of the company with the paycheck received. More results == fatter paycheck. Simple formula. We just need to get better at calculating the results to arrive at that fat paycheck. People who do not deliver are asked to leave.

– How are people managed? Managers shall manage people by context and not authority. “Customer is shipping the product tomorrow, we are in deep shit and we got to be moving this somehow today” is better than “Work your asses off, I want to get it done today”.

– What are the rules of the organization? Ideally, there shall be no rules. Just one dictum “Act in the best interest of the organization”. Practically also, there shall be no rules. Just one dictum. No leave policy. No dress code. People are free. Just deliver the results and act in the best interest of the organization. In case you make an important decision, inform others in case you think it has to be known to somebody. In any case, you decide everything based on your priority and one dictum.

– What are actions taken for people development? People are responsible for their own careers. Organization just provides company of the best people to work with. No formal training to develop individual. People we hire are smart enough to develop themselves.

– Are these set values permanent? Nothing is permanent. We will keep working on this set to make it better.

What Happened later?

Ten years later, one of these companies was world leader in its category. The other one was struggling to cross $5 million mark. Which one do you think was the successful company and which one was dud?

Disclaimer: All companies are fictional and any resemblance to existing companies is just a coincidence. Thanks to wikipedia for reference.

2 thoughts on “Two Stories About Culture

  1. We would be only taking a wild guess as to which one became successful. Offer letter which was given ten years back surely is no indicator.

    And success is always an afterthought. We often commit the mistake of relating each and everything to ‘success’ after it has happened. And then nothing is for ever. The sucessful one will fail and the failed one will rise.

  2. There is always some guesswork or luck-factor involved. However, culture plays a key role in success of today’s organizations. Culture defines a company – be it a successful multi-billion dollar enterprise or a 2-man startup.

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