# Section 10: Organizational Culture
_How does culture emerge within an organization, and how can managers and leaders shape it? What role does personality play in the cultural DNA of an organization? How can you effectively leverage the culture within an organization?_
## Culture Eats Strategy for Lunch
_Parr. S. Culture Eats Strategy for Lunch, Fast Company. Author: Fantigrossi, Steven Marc; Editor: Steele, Samantha E_
Culture is defined as “a balanced blend of human psychology, attitudes, actions, and beliefs that combined create either pleasure or pain, serious momentum or miserable stagnation.” An organization's brand is a
result of its culture and serves as the most important factor in helping an organization stand out from the pack. An organization won’t be successful in the long term by only making good products and a profit, a good culture is also necessary. Good culture incorporates focus, motivation, connection, cohesion, and spirit in order to create a healthy workplace environment for employees to succeed. Employees and leadership alike must understand the vision of the organization and take steps to move forward towards its goals. Workers should be happy to be at work, be loyal to the organization, and put the team before themselves by working with others to increase efficiency and effectiveness.
But successful company culture cannot be created overnight, it has to be embodied by everyone in an organization from the leader down to the bottom. It has to be indoctrinated into employees from day one, just as a U.S. Marine learns the values of “the few, the proud” during the first day of training. In order to develop and nurture good culture, dynamic and engaged leadership must effectively communicate its organization’s values both within and outside the organization and show that they genuinely care; “authenticity and values always win.” Employees must be given clear roles and held accountable when they violate the values that they should be upholding. Also, organizations need to stop and celebrate the organization's success and take time to learn from its failures.
Organizational culture is a driving force in retaining both employees and customers. But having a common culture shouldn’t be confused with a lack of diversity. Core values drive culture and it is essential that everyone in an organization is moving in the same direction. However, within that culture, people of many different backgrounds, experience, and skills must be included to make a organization successful. By hiring employees who believe in the core values of an organization and that fill a unique role, an organization will be well-suited to be prosper in the long term.
## Building a Team Culture Guided by Happiness
_Sutherland, J. & Sutherland, J.J. (2014). Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time. Crown Business, Happiness: pp 145-170. Author: Dorries, Joshua Wayne; Editor: Orlan, Samuel Lawrence_
## Why Zappos Pays Employees to Quit
_Taylor, B. “Why Zappos Pays Employees to Quit, and You Should Too.” Harvard Business Review, May 19, 2008. Author: Rosa, Adelaide Lee_
Sutherland, J. & Sutherland, J.J. (2014). Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time. Crown Business, Happiness: pp 145-170. Author: Dorries, Joshua Wayne; Editor: Orlan, Samuel Lawrence
**The Untold Story of Larry Page’s Incredible Comeback**
_Carlson, N. “The Untold Story of Larry Page’s Incredible Comeback.” Business Insider, April 24, 2014. Author: Swartwood, Hilary Ann; Editor: Dieselman, Andrew_
Larry Page is the child of computer science professors at Michigan State University. Page drew inspiration from Nikola Tesla; a Serbian immigrant who was a brilliant inventor and lousy businessman. Tesla taught Page that big ideas aren’t enough- they need to be commercialized. To be successful, Page realized you also need a successful company while being wary of the Thomas Edison’s of the world.
In the beginning, Google gave Page the best of both worlds: he was building a product that millions of people use and he created an interpersonal culture intensely focused on ideas and outcomes rather than emotional niceties. Page wasn’t a social child, but in college and graduate school he connected to people over external abstractions- visions of the future, cool technologies. Page originally bonded with Sergey Brin, his co-founder, over a fierce day of argument and that’s how Page styled his management of Google. He encouraged his senior executives to fight the way he and Brin did. From this Page developed his rules for management:
- • Don’t delegate: do everything you can yourself to make things go faster.
- • Don’t get in the way of you’re not adding value. Let the people actually doing the work talk to each other while you go do something else.
- • Don’t be a bureaucrat.
- • Ideas are more important than age. Just because someone is junior doesn’t mean they don’t deserve respect and cooperation.
When Google incorporated, Page was lucky to have Brin as a partner. Unlike Page, Brin was outgoing and energetic. He was a great at strategy, branding and developing relationships between Google and other companies. However, Google's insane growth prompted venture capitalists to invest $25 million with the stipulation that Page step down as CEO and hire “adult supervision.” Page took the deal, but later tried to change the terms so that Brin and him could continue running the company. This was mostly because Page was a paranoid control freak and didn’t want to relinquish his hold to someone else. However, John Doerr set up a meeting with other CEO’s so Page could see that Google did indeed need one. Page reluctantly hired CEO of Novell, Eric Schmidt.
Schmidt kept things even keeled, hired a team of executives, built a sales force, and took Google public. Even though he became more distant and remote, Page never stopped reviewing, approving, and contributing to products Google shipped. He remained a deciding vote in big strategic initiatives, like Google’s bid for wireless spectrum and acquisition of YouTube, but he was much less involved in the day-to-day operations. Over time Page came to appreciate Schmidt’s strengths. Schmidt had played a huge role in building the type of company that could capitalize financially on Page’s vision. The more comfortable Page became with Schmidt the farther he retreated.
In 2005, Page decided he wanted to put handheld computers with access to Google in everyone’s pocket. He bought a start up called Android and set it up as a separate entity only marginally tied to Google. Page gave Rubin the autonomy to run it without interference from the parent company. Eventually Android become the world’s most popular operating system. This gave Page enormous confidence in his executive abilities and he realized that earlier in his career he had been bad at delegating and trusting people.
In this time frame, Google had also developed big company problems- it was too bureaucratic and bloated, there were too many people working on projects and very little of those projects got public exposure, and it wasn’t the cool, new super power any more, Facebook was. Further, among the senior executives, Schmidt had never entirely resolved the argumentative decision-making from the earlier days of Google. This had lead to the formation of bitter rivals who nearly refused to work with one another. Plus, Google had dialed back its ambitions, which didn’t make sense to Page. Google’s search-advertising business, incredible profit margins, and sustained growth was the kind of cash-generating machine needed to fund crazy schemes- exactly the type Page was always thinking up. After Page’s frustrations were voiced in an executive meeting Schmidt stepped down as CEO and Page took the reigns once again.
Page’s first order of business was reorganizing the company’s senior management by taking a handful of the companies most important product divisions and putting a CEO-like manager at the top of each. He decided Google would have a zero tolerance for fighting and admitted that in Google’s younger days this argumentative atmosphere was necessary because that was when Google had linear problems. However, now Google was faced with, what Page called, n-squared problems. To solve these, people needed to learn how to work together. From there, Google expanded it's interests. For example, Google began to install fiber-optic Internet cables that are 100 times faster than broad band.
Google’s real danger for the long-term future is that it will become so huge it will capture nearly all the money any businesses on the planet spends on marketing. This means that Page spends a lot of time brainstorming and experimenting. For example engineers are working on creating a self driving car, and researching artificial intelligence. Google also hasn’t stopped acquiring other companies that fit its interests, like Titan Aerospace which produces drones. However the diversity of ideas has left investors worried that Google won’t be able to keep its focus. Page’s answer is: (1) Its easier for google to work on moonshots because there is less competition and the best people will work for google because they like ambitious projects and (2) all these schemes are part of providing the world better search. For Page “the perfect search engine would understand whatever your need is. It would understand everything in the world deeply [and] give you back kind of exactly what you need.”
## I'm Sorry to All the Mothers I Have Worked With
_Female company president: "I'm sorry to all the mothers I worked with." Fortune, March 3, 2015. Author: Sarawat, Fariha; Editor: Dorries, Joshua Wayne_
## Why Do So Many Incompetent Men Become Leaders?
_Chamorro-Premuzic, T. “Why Do So Many Incompetent Men Become Leaders?” Harvard Business Review, August 22, 2013. Author: Gobbo, Andre Francis; Editor: Hamlin, Madeleine Rose_
This article aims to explore the reasons why there are so few women in management positions.
It starts by going through the three most popular explanations for why this phenomenon exists: (1) they are not capable, (2) they are not interested, and (3) they are both interested and capable but unable to break the glass ceiling. However, the author finds that these 3 explanations fail to account for the largest reason why women are underrepresented in management roles: a failure to distinguish between confidence and competence. .
The author then goes on to explain that because we conflate confidence and competence, we tend to view men as better suited for management positions because they display their confidence (sometimes even hubris) more often than women. The arrogance and overconfidence more often found in men translates into them being perceived as better leaders, when in fact these traits are inversely related to leadership talent.
In most sectors the best leaders are usually humble. This trait is more commonly found in women than in men. Furthermore, this is true not just in the United States; the author cites a study done involving 23,000 participants in 26 different cultures indicating that women are more sensitive, considerate, and humble than men. The author cites another study showing that normative data on thousands of managers from across different industries and sectors points to men being consistently more arrogant, manipulative, and risk-prone than women.
The author makes an important distinction between _getting_ a management job and _doing the job well_. This difference is why many incompetent men find management roles and proceed to not do well. Because of this, many leaders tend to fail in their roles. The author notes that good leadership has always been the exception, not the norm.
Because there is a rise in trying to get women into leadership roles, the author notes that women shouldn't be trying to adopt these faulty characteristics of men in order to become more appealing for management positions. Rather, women should be emphasizing the characteristics that make them better in leadership roles: eliciting respect and pride from their followers, effective communication of their vision, empowering and mentoring subordinates, and a more flexible and creative approach to problem-solving.
While the glass ceiling is quite thick for most women, the author finds a bigger problem in the lack of career obstacles for incompetent men, and that we equate good leadership with psychological features that make the average man more inept than the average woman
## The Hidden Dimension of Corporate Culture
_Grant, A. (2013). “Givers take all: The hidden dimension of corporate culture.” McKinsey Quarterly, April. Author: Perez, Philip A; Editor: Steele, Samantha E_
Adam Grant discusses corporate culture in
this article and suggests that “giver cultures” result in benefits such as greater productivity and organizational effectiveness over “taker cultures.”
**Types of Corporate Cultures**
Grant identifies three types of cultures in organizations: “giver cultures,” “taker cultures,” and "matcher cultures.” A giver culture is one in which employees help others, share knowledge, offer mentoring and make connections without expecting anything in return. A taker culture is characterized by the norm of employees taking and not contributing anything in return; in these cultures employees only help if their expected return outweighs personal costs. A matcher culture falls in the middle and is one where employees trade favors and maintain an equal balance of giving and taking.
Grant cites research on intelligence work finding that the “single strongest predictor of group effectiveness was the amount of help that [intelligence] analysts gave to each other.” He also cites researching suggesting that the amount of help employees give to each other in diverse contexts facilitates organizational effectiveness by “enabling employees to solve and get work done faster . . . enhancing team cohesion and coordination . . . ensuring that expertise is transferred from experienced to new employees . . . reducing variability in performance when some members are overloaded or distracted . . . [and] establishing an environment in which customers and suppliers feel that their needs are the organization’s top priority.”
**Barriers to Giver Culture**
Two primary barriers exist to creating a giver culture in an organization. The first is our natural human tendency to avoid asking for help—an employee may fear burdening colleagues, not know who to ask for help, or fear appearing vulnerable or incompetent. The second is existing organizational structures that look more like winner-take-all markets where leaders reward individual performance. The disadvantages of such cultures are that employees compete for resources and therefore will not provide help unless they receive something in return, and employees who give may see their productivity diminish as takers use their time and steal their ideas. Grant identifies three practices that create a giver culture in an organization: (1) Facilitating Help-Seeking, (2) Recognizing and Rewarding Givers, and (3) Screening Out Takers.
Grant states, “Giver culture depends on employees making requests; otherwise, it’s difficult to figure out who needs help and what to give.” The problem is overcoming the first barrier of people’s tendency to avoid asking for help.
Grant suggests an exercise called the “reciprocity ring,” where employees in an organization come together in small groups, employees ask for personal requests from the group, and then as people open up and feel comfortable they take turns asking for professional requests. The benefit of the reciprocity ring exercise can be both monetary and cultural. For example, one pharmaceutical executive saved $50,000 when another participant in the exercise had extra capacity at his lab and offered to synthesize an alkaloid free of charge.
Grant provides another example of a program that facilitated a giving culture in a call-center provider that was experiencing a 97 percent turnover rate. The CEO’s team created a program called “Dream On,” which was modeled after the Make-A-Wish Foundation and invites employees to request one thing they want most in their personal life. A secret committee then began to make some of these requests happen. The program “has helped promote a culture where . . . ‘employees look to do things for each other and are literally paying it forward.’” Retention at the call-center increased to 67 percent from 3 percent and had its most profitable quarters after the program was implemented.
One disadvantage of a giver culture is that employees may end up so consumed with trying to fulfill others’ requests for help that they do not have the time or the energy to fulfill their own responsibilities. Grant suggests that organizations set clear time boundaries around helping others, which allows an organization to “leverage the benefits of giver cultures while minimizing the costs.”
Grant also notes that a designated helping role assigned to an employee may provide such benefits, as employees may be more comfortable asking that person for help than colleagues.
**Recognizing and Rewarding Givers**
A giver culture depends on a “comprehensive set of practices for recognizing and rewarding helping behavior in organizations.” Organizations should move away from performance evaluations based solely on results, which create win/loss mindsets, and towards evaluations that include an employees’ impact on other individuals and groups.
If monetary incentives are used in rewarding giver culture then the incentives must not be too large. Employees may begin to game the system, seeking the rewards and undermining the motivation to give without expecting to receive in return.
**Screening Out Takers**
An organization seeking to create a giver culture should have policies against hiring takers. Grant identifies three ways to identify takers.
First, takers “tend to claim personal credit for successes,” and tend to use the pronouns “I” and “me” instead of “us” and “we.” Look for applicants that “describe accomplishments in collective rather than personal terms.”
Second, takers “tend to follow a pattern of ‘kissing up, kicking down.’” These people are charismatic and appealing towards their bosses or other people in power, but negative towards subordinates and peers. Look for recommendations and references from a prospective employee’s colleagues rather than his bosses.
Third, takers “sometime engage in antagonistic behavior at the expense of others.” These people talk negatively about colleagues up for promotion or take advantage of customers to try and get ahead. Grant points to a questionnaire called the “conditional reasoning test of aggression” that research suggests accurately identifies whether a person is likely to engage in theft, plagiarism, forgery and other illegal activities, and likely to be absent or quit work.
Grant ends his article by suggesting that it is not enough for leaders to encourage a giver culture, but they must live it (“give it”). He gives the anecdote of a struggling film company that hired a new CEO. The CEO asked two leaders of one of the divisions of the company to give him names of people to layoff to save money on the budget. The division leaders resisted, and the CEO gave them an ultimatum. The next day the two men came in with a list containing two names—their own.
“No layoffs were conducted, and a few months later Steve Jobs bought the division from Lucasfilm and started Pixar with Ed Catmull and Alvy Ray Smith. Employees were grateful that ‘managers would put their own jobs on the line for the good of their teams,’ marvels Stanford’s Robert Sutton, noting that even a quarter century later, this ‘still drives and inspires people at Pixar.’”
## Can a Teacher Be Too Dedicated?
_Can a Teacher Be Too Dedicated? The Atlantic. Author: Boucher, Timothy M.; Editor: Dorries, Joshua Wayne_
## The Untold Story of Larry Page's Comeback
_Carlson, N. “The Untold Story of Larry Page’s Incredible Comeback.” Business Insider, April 24, 2014. Author: Swartwood, Hilary Ann; Editor: Dieselman, Andrew_
## Inside Amazon: Competition as Culture
_Kantor, J. & Streitfeld, D. “Inside Amazon: Wrestling Big Ideas in a Bruising Workplace.” The New York Times, August 15, 2015. Author: Swartwood, Hilary Ann; Editor: Farrior, Cheri Nicole_