Success Rises and Falls on Culture by William Warren

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Culture is everything: success rises and falls on culture.

I’d define “culture” as the shared personality, values and beliefs of a team. It’s intangible but absolutely crucial.

If you have a good culture, your team will love working for you, you vendors will love working with you, and your clients will love hiring you. The opposite is true for a bad culture.

To build a culture, it must be defined, modeled, and reinforced.

Culture must first be defined, usually through a written mission statement (what you do), vision statement (where you’re going) and set of core values (how you act). At the Sketch Effect, we go a step further and have outlined “key behaviors” associated with each value. This is our filter for hiring decisions and performance reviews.

Next, culture must be modeled by leadership, which begins with the boss. A team will naturally replicate the behavior of their boss.

Finally, culture must be reinforced through activities and artifacts. Activities are things like scheduled retreats, lunches, celebrations, etc. The key word here is “scheduled” – it must be intentionally calendared and protected. At The Sketch Effect, we have quarterly retreats, semi-monthly team lunches, a weekly “sketch up” (i.e., “catch up”) meeting, and bi-weekly individual hangouts. Artifacts are physical things that populate your workspace. Examples are printed posters of your values, physical manifestations of inside jokes, or objects that hold special meaning to your team. For example, at The Sketch Effect, we have a “Gong of Awesome” in our office that we strike whenever anything awesome happens…whether that’s receiving a positive client survey, landing a big project, a team-member anniversary, etc.

At the Sketch Effect, we want our culture to be fun. I believe that if you hire people who are responsible and remarkable, you don’t need to worry about them having too much fun.

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