Companies like Google, Facebook, Apple and many others became globally known for their success, while still challenging the status quo on different levels. It's partially because of this that now we take "thinking different" quite seriously.
One of the most visible aspects of these companies is how much they have learned to focus (and spend!) on people, teams, culture. Be it through sleeping pods, on-site child care, or kickboxing lessons, there is a clear obsession with company culture.
And the world is following.
Why is culture so important?
Sir Richard Branson said it all with "Take care of your employees and they will take care of your company".
Eventually someone realised that it's possible to make work enjoyable. Not only that, it also boosts the overall quality in whatever it is you're doing.
Culture is paramount for companies because it is, in its essence, whatever that company is and how it's ultimately defined. That impacts the people that get drawn to it, what they produce, the clients that buy into it and all the jazz in between.
Just by creating an environment with people that share the same vision and approach to work, we're naturally connecting individuals with higher potential of turning into a group. When listened to, this collective mind is what keeps companies going, and it is what makes "culture" go from a word in corporate powerpoints into a palpable living thing.
Even though there is no such thing as a full-proof solution and everlasting peace, focusing on that first will pretty much take care of a very big chunk of well known corporate problems, such as hiring, struggles of replacing people and how to stay ahead of the competition.
It won't however fix the "can the team ***** commit to where we're going for lunch before it's actually time to eat?" problem. There is virtually no solution for this one.
The right culture
There is no such thing as "the one right culture", although I'm pretty sure there are many wrong ones. Companies and people are ultimately different and expect different things.
But I do believe that there are right things for any success thriving business.
Aspects like respect and fairness shouldn't even be talked about anymore, since they go hand-in-hand with ethics, but others like candor or transparency are easily missed.
Not to be confused with blind honesty, having candor relationships with your coworkers and management ultimately means that everyone should always address what has to be addressed, every time.
A healthy company is ultimately a bunch of people working together with at least that as a common goal. Focusing on raising issues and following fixing them is the fastest way to corporate heaven.
Transparency follows up candor and is pretty much up there alongside respect and fairness. Lack of transparency will always lead to a handicapped trust system and loss in respect between peers.
Without trusting that everyone will perform as they are supposed to, either standards will colapse or micro-management will take place. Either way, talent will not be the dominant factor anymore. This is not a good way to go.
The Cloudoki Family
Here at Cloudoki we are very specific and protective when it comes to our culture. Besides our work, this is definitely what resonates most with the people that join us, and what makes them remember us long after they've left.
We try our best to enforce the above principles as a solid base for our culture, only then to add a bit of our identity to it.
Our main product is knowledge, in the sense that it is what we ultimately sell and what hopefully makes us stand out amongst the crowd. Be it through project development, Architecture mentoring for companies or IoT Hackathons, it's always about sharing our very specific and ever growing knowledge.
It would serve little purpose to advertise this approach and not act on it. We are the first ones to enforce knowledge gathering from everyone in the team.
Every other Friday we have what we have learned to call "Internal Hackfridays", where the whole team is free to spend the whole day hacking away at whatever they find juicy and worth investigating.
Not only does this increase the group's knowledge base, it also gives room for creative thinking, a couple of days free from actual work, and the perfect environment for pizzas.
We cannot fake what we do.
We're all about getting things done the best they can be done. With pretty much everything else, we're flexible.
As long as it doesn't have a negative impact on the team and it doesn't affect our culture or work, it's probably fine.
Having a real impact
I'm personally a very big fan of a "non-authoritarian" way of getting things done. In part because I'm very weary of micro-management, but mostly because we feel everyone should be able to contribute to their work environment.
From processes to technology, most of the great things about us are only so because some coworker was good enough to help us change in some way.
Trust & Accountability
It doesn't make sense to pick the best and not let them do their thing. The best way to promote trust while empowering people to keep growing, is giving them decisive power. The cost is, of course, everyone being accountable for their decisions, including management.
Can things go wrong? Always. Will we fix them if they do? Damn right.
Work hard, play hard
We don't work longer because we've worked harder at figuring out the right way of doing things. I think everyone is and should be very proud of what we accomplish as a team, on a daily basis. When someone isn't, just push us and we'll go further.
This is what we expect of everyone.
...that, and a very open mind. We're noisy, sometimes rude in a way only old friends are allowed to be, and very engaged into making our working place enjoyable.
You can't fake culture.
Last but definitely not least, culture is not something one can fake through corporate slogans and engaging stock pictures. Eventually, the people that bought into it will call the bluff.
There is definitely value in aiming for something and working your way towards it. Not everything has to be perfect all the time. You can sell a vision as long as it's honest. I assure you that the right people can tell the difference.