This article is available at http://CultureCode.com -- the slides and content will be updated periodically. I'm working on a really big project on the topic of culture. Follow me on twitter (@dharmesh) to get an update on March 20th when it comes out in public beta.
This article represents the notes and slides related to a talk I'm about to give (in less than 60 minutes) at the #LeanStartup event at #SxSW 2013.
Here are my notes on the talk. Note: I'm writing these roughly 90 minutes before I go on stage, so they're a bit rough.
1. Posted the historical recurring revenue numbers of HubSpot. Rationale: Transparency is one of our core cultural values at HubSpot. So, every year, we post our financial deck with details
2. Entrepreneurs don't spend many calories thinking about or working on culture. There are several common reasons for this:
a) Culture? We don't need no stinkin' culture! We're putting a dent in the universe. That's our f*!#ing culture!
b) Culture? Relax. We got this one covered. We have free beer and a ping poing table.
c) Culture? You can't really create that. It has to be built organically. It just comes from the behaviors and example of the founders.
All of those are reasonable positions to take. They're misguided, but they're reasonable.
a) Most of the startups that did end up putting a dent in the universe didn't really know that they were going to succeed at it. And, one of the few common characteristics of super-successful companies is that they have a distinct culture. Google. Facebook. Zapps. Netflix. The list goes on and one.
b) Maybe you can't create a culture -- but you can certainly destroy it through neglect. The 2nd Law of Thermodynamics applies here. Left alone, most things degrade to crap. In the early days, it's OK to rely on the behavior of the founders and early team to set the culture. That works great. The problem with this model is that as you start to grow, there's a fair amount lost in translation.
3. Convention over Configuration. Yes, you could just let people make decisions organically based on their best interpretation of whatever they think the right model/framework is. But, I generally favor convention over configuration. Why not just have a convention (i.e. culture) that makes a large body of easy decisions and a small body of hard decisions easier? The result is more efficient and more consistent decision-making.