I’ve read (and participated in creating) different company culture codes and values. They all have the same in common: they sound good on paper.

“Share information,” “fail fast,” “put the customer first.” When the times come for an employee to act on any of those values, it is hard to make a pause, go to the company’s culture page, read them and make a decision.

When a customer is complaining about a project being late, telling her “we care about your success,” is not the most honest answer. It is a script-based answer.

When a programmer is banging her head against the wall because a piece of code is not working, she is not saying “I need to fail faster.” She wants to stop failing, and get the code right.

Company culture codes supposed to inspire, they actually do when you read them, but two forces are acting on behalf of anyone doing culture: why you are in the company, and whom do you have next to you.

The very first thing you know about a company is the story that will stick with you during all your stay. If the story is aligned with what you want, it will act as a driving force.

If you have people in your team willing and excited to share knowledge, they will have each other’s back. If you have someone that doesn’t share the same principle, you need to let her go.

A company’s culture is not about written values. It is about people who believe in the company’s success and that any co-worker who doesn’t, will not stay in the company for long.


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Leo Celis