Culture Planning in a Startup

Dharmesh Shah put out out a wicked slide deck this weekend on culture in startups. Did you see it? It was on point. The basic theory is that founders need to be intentional about culture.

Culture doesn’t just develop on it’s own, and if you get culture wrong, the debt is a nightmare to fix.

The deck addressed one of the two things that matter in culture planning, the “what is the culture you want as an entrepreneur?” piece.

What it didn’t talk much about is how you enfuse culture into your business once you know what you want it to be.

This part is tough. What’s too much? Where do you list it? How often do you refer to it? How do you not make it sound trite or cookie cutter?

This morning, a colleague and I listed ways to share and enfuse culture in our business. Here’s what we came up:

  • Write it down and place it on your website (ha, this seems obvious, but I wonder how many founders actually do it?)
  • Bring the whole team in as early as possible (ideally it’s created from the beginning, but it will always evolve). Getting the core of your team on the same page is instrumental.
  • Blog about it – plain and simple.
  • Mention it in a weekly stakeholder email.
  • Refer to it frequently in the hiring process.
  • Create your own custom poster and hang it in your office (be creative and unique, never off the shelve).
  • Memorize it. If you as a founder cannot put it to memory, how on earth can you expect the team to live it out?
  • Ask team members how they are living up to the values during reviews.
  • Bring it up in monthly or quarterly meetings.

And lastly, most importantly: LIVE IT. It’s not real if it’s not engrained in who you are.

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