I am a huge fan of the team at Gapingvoid. The company draws on traditional management science to solve business’ toughest problems, using visual tools). Sign up to their newsletter for amazing insights on running a successful company.
I don’t miss any of their emails. These are a few of the most importance things they keep sharing about creating an awesome company culture.
1. Picasso was the most talented artist of the 20th century. He also worked like a fiend, every day. Sure, he needed the talent to be who he was, but he also needed the work ethic. He couldn’t have done what he achieved and still been a slacker.
2. When you are part of a team working together for a common cause, success usually comes not from the single idea, but from many ideas coming together to form a cohesive product or business.
3. The things that make a team effective – lots of different knowledge, skills, backgrounds – are also the obstacles that keep people from working together.
4. When employees give up their own entrepreneurial pursuits to come work for you, you get a lot of very smart people pushing new ideas, new ways of doing things. Entrepreneurial folk love a challenge, i.e., the “less” part. A good obstacle is what gets them up in the morning.
5. Most problems in business aren’t about lack of resources or ideas. Most companies have plenty of talent, plenty of great products and plenty of money. What’s causing them problems is their culture. How they interact with each other. It’s too easy to forget that we’re all human, that we’re all doing things for the same reason gorillas pick fleas off each other. To socialize with purpose. And it’s this social dynamic that makes business so darn interesting.
6. What motivates one to lead? For some people it is about charisma, for others, it’s thoughts. Heroism. Talent. Regardless, the thing all the greatest leaders have in common is conviction. They can lead for good or for evil, but they convince their followers by doing something that they are willing to die for…metaphorically or literally.
7. The more freaks you have tinkering away productively on their mad ideas, protected from the short-term minutiae of running a business, the more interesting your company will become. And it’s the “interesting” part that creates true long-term value. Look at Microsoft or Google or Facebook.
Or look at the PhD chemists and engineers creating out-there stuff at Procter & Gamble or Lockheed Martin. Though it might take years for their work to be fully appreciated, these are the freaks who will eventually transform the company forever. The more you can surround yourself with these folks, the more interesting your life and career will be.
8. The final project is never the same as when you first imagine it. The idea is changed the minute it comes into contact with execution. You just kinda know “what” is going to happen, without actually knowing what exactly is going to happen. This loose relationship with the word, “What” is at the core of our friend, Eric Ries’ “Lean Startup” movement.
Not waiting around to know “Everything”, because that is impossible. Instead, you just start. And keep going. And stay light on your feet enough (i.e. low burn rate) in order to change directions on the dime (i.e. “pivot”) if you need to.
9. Being an entrepreneur is the hardest thing you can do. It’s beyond tough. All that independence you crave comes with an overwhelming amount of responsibility. On a bad day, it’s paralyzing. The fear makes your stomach churn. And we don’t talk about it enough, because it’s embarrassing to be afraid, and because pretending to be tough is sometimes how we get there.
10. Everyone aspires to greatness on some level. This is as true for companies and teams as it is for individuals. And what gets in the way of achieving greatness? Usually it’s nothing too complicated. Simple stuff like good manners, keeping your word and yes, open and honest communication. For all our delusions of grandeur, greatness isn’t “big”. It’s about the little things.
11. Corporate culture as a competitive advantage is nothing new. Julius Caesar knew that a motivated platoon was worth five times as much as an unmotivated one. Which is why no General in history worked harder to make sure that his troops not only loved and respected him, but believed in his mission, as well. Pity he couldn’t transfer this talent to the Roman Senate, he may have escaped being assassinated…
12. Five thousand one hundred and twenty-six failed vacuum cleaners. That’s how many prototypes it took for James Dyson to get it right. 5,127 was his lucky number. He’s now worth over $4 billion. It’s not about being brilliant, or about always being right. It’s about not giving up before you have the chance to succeed. The one thing all entrepreneurs have in common: they’re endlessly driven to take the ordinary and make it extraordinary.