For the long-term viability of any enterprise you needed a viable corporate culture. It, too, has to be long-term. So, cultivate good people and keep them. Work with honest and competent business managers and give them a long-term commitment and support. From these modest principles, an empire can rise.
Here are eight rules for creating the right conditions for a culture that reflects your creed:
1. Hire the right people
Hire for passion and commitment first, experience second, and credentials third. There is no shortage of impressive CVs out there, but you should try to find people who are interested in the same things you are. You don’t want to be simply a stepping stone on an employee’s journey toward his or her own (very different) passion. Asking the right questions is key: What do you love about your chosen career? What inspires you? What courses in school did you dread? You want to get a sense of what the potential employee believes.
Once you have the right people, you need to sit down regularly with them and discuss what is going well and what isn’t. It’s critical to take note of your victories, but it’s just as important to analyze your losses. A fertile culture is one that recognizes when things don’t work and adjusts to rectify the problem. As well, people need to feel safe and trusted, to understand that they can speak freely without fear of repercussion.
The art of communication tends to put the stress on talking, but listening is equally important. Great cultures grow around people who listen, not just to each other or to their clients and stakeholders. It’s also important to listen to what’s happening outside your walls. What is the market saying? What is the zeitgeist? What developments, trends, and calamities are going on?
One of the biggest challenges when starting up a project is to create a team. What usually happens is that a certain amount of resources (or I would prefer calling them what they really are; persons) are given to the project. Then it is the project managers task to create a team out of the group of individuals given. This is a tremendous, complex and very time consuming effort that simply just has to be done. All this effort is not even giving you any guarantee what-so-ever of succeeding. Failure in the beginning of a project can be devastating for the whole product and/or project. Hence, why do we keep struggling with this problem every single time we start up a project? My ideas is to keep the team(s) intact and then assign a product and/or project to the team! This way we get rid of all the tremendous, complex and very time consuming effort(s) that has to be done in order to create a high-performing team!
What is the difference between a group and a team? Is there really a difference? I argue that there is a definite and fundamental difference between a group and a team. To be able to understand this further one must start by defining the terms “group” and “team”.
A group can be defined as;
“a small group of people with complementary skills and abilities who are committed to a leader’s goal and approach and are willing to be held accountable by the leader.”
Jon R. Katzenbach and Douglas K. Smith on The Wisdom of Teams (Harvard Business School Press, 1992)
Whilst a team can be defined as;
“a small group of people with complementary skills and abilities who are committed to a common goal and approach for which they hold each other accountable.” Jon R. Katzenbach and Douglas K. Smith on The Wisdom of Teams (Harvard Business School Press, 1992)
Hence, a group is very individual-based (rather than team-based) where the group’s responsibility and accountability lie within every individual within the group (i.e. every individual is responsible and accountable for his/her own work). The group is dominantly held together by a leader, where the group supports the leader’s goals. The decisions made in a group are made by voting and/or implied agreement(s) whereas decisions on a team are typically made by consensus.
Sasa Stamenkovic (LinkedIn Profile) works as an Agile Coach at Klarna. He has nine years of miscellaneous experience in the software industry within the areas of Management, Project Management, Change Management, Software Development, Sales and Test.