As a founder, if you obsess over maintaining the culture when quickly scaling from 20 to 200 read along. Here is how we are trying and how we got here!
Predict and prepare
The foremost job of leaders is to predict the future and prepare. Many times, you get it wrong ;) but when you get it right, it is all worth it.
You need to start early, way before the scale hits you. Because figuring out the company DNA takes quite a bit of soul searching, which is hard to do during the everyday hustle. We started working on this around June 2019.
Discover, not create
When a group of people starts something together, you already have your values, way of working, and purpose intertwined. Your decisions reflect them, it is just that you are mostly not aware of them. You can only discover and articulate those tenets. If you create something just because you have to or others are doing it, you are set up for failure as they are spurious at best. Enron had integrity as its core value!
Whatever values you come up with, do check if you have examples to support them, or else they are just aspirational values. One of the initial values we came up with was “Respect,” we put it through the aspirational v/s core test. It passed the test as we decided to fire one of our customers because the manager didn’t treat our colleagues professionally and was borderline abusive. We actually had an example where we put respect for our engineers over revenue.
Go beyond permission to play values
Integrity, respect, humility, transparency are a great bunch of values to have, but they are too trite and obvious. We initially came up with Growth Mindset, Integrity, Respect, and Fairness but realized that even though they are critical, they are too basic, and we needed to dig deeper.
The values also need to convey what it takes to thrive at that particular organization that is unique to that company. And you owe it to the good folks who decided to choose you over a zillion other options when they joined you.
They also need to be action-oriented and impactful, or else they are just platitudes. And this is how we found InfraCloud’s values:
Don’t forget the purpose
While you should articulate how you do things at the organization, figure out and spell out “why” you are building the company. Money is never the real reason to build a startup, and there are many easier ways to make money. Find out what excites you to keep going, and success in monetary terms will be its byproduct. Ultimately revenue numbers are just a way of keeping the score in the sport of business.
We were always thrilled to see our colleagues become great at something, customers build wildly successful products from scratch, and just thrilled to see people flourish while being part of this story.
Hence we defined our purpose as:
Make them visible and keep them alive
Now comes the most fun part, ensuring they are embodied within the organization. When you are growing 100% YoY, that means half of the people are new to your culture.
What gets rewarded, appreciated, talked about, and most importantly demonstrated through actions will get ingrained. While these values and purpose guide every decision, how we hire, and how we work in general, we ensure that they are also visible within the organization.
Stay tuned to know more about it in our future blogs.