The Idea Dude

CONNECTING THE DOTS ONE AT A TIME

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Building corporate culture from scratch

I came across some interesting answers to how do you create corporate culture from scratch

The answer IMHO is that you never really build it from scratch. The company yes, the culture no. Why? Because the culture is something that is brought in by the co-founders. They set the tone of how the company is run, how the products are built and how the people who help build the company are treated.

The culture of the co-founder is read in books or taught in schools. It is deeper than that, it is how he or she thinks about things, how they build stuff and how they treat people. For the one reason, bringing in an enterprise seasoned CEO or VC may not be the best option, neither is keeping a serial entrepreneur at the helm when the company has over a hundred people. It is hard to find a man for all seasons. Only a few come to mind.

Start-ups require people to be agile because stuff happens. Which means check your egos at the door please. Listen to everyone around you but the buck stops here. Everyone is a resource and everyone must be multi-skilled. I happen to be the first one at the office every morning which means it makes sense that I vacuum the floors. You may wonder if that isn't a waste of my time. Actually no, I figured out how to make that a play situation. Instead of whistling while I vacuum, I think, prioritize my day or ponder about that elusive bug. Cray used to dig tunnels while he designed his supercomputers. I vacuum. Two hours later, I teach. In between that I code. Between coffee and and the next compile I pay bills.

I'm not the only one. Sharleen has taken over producing the graphical elements. When she isn't doing that she's worrying about the user experience of our prototype. Between coffee and the next photoshop graphic, you'll find her surveying the web. She is our eyes and ears, watching and listening to the pulse of the web. And she manages to squeeze in organizing our next batch of recruits. She is also HR. Creativity starts with her.

Tony will be fixing servers, working on customer projects that have fallen off my table, and mentoring our co-ops. He is our resident tech guru but is known to throw in some sharp insight that turns our product around. And if I don't watch him, he'll sneak by and wash my coffee cup.

This is a typical day at the Play Dynamics playground. There are no rules just people who love coming in and doing stuff that needs to be done. There are no egos, and no 'not my job' here. Gaps need to be filled and people step up to fill them. That's the culture. We're bootstrapped so everything is lean and mean but it buys us the valuable time to play without agendas, without borders. We have super advisors but none who demand that we make a dollar by some arbitrary date. They understand the need for us to find our path and get the train on the right set of rails.

The longevity is not in our products but our band of heroes. I'm pragmatic enough to know the internet is fickle and often success comes by way of a heavy dose of luck. What we do agree on around here that the game may and will change but the players remain the same. That's what our investors should be investing in.

Today my thought is:

Our possibilities are only limited by our own imagination

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