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Culture: An essential ingredient in success. Just ask any startup. Or Amazon

By NexChange

"Nearly every person I worked with, I saw cry at their desk." -- Bob Olson, former Amazon employee who worked in books marketing

The New York Times
Anyone who has ever worked in an office knows this for sure: culture matters. Over the weekend, The New York Times published a major expose on the culture at Amazon, depicting a workplace pushing employees to achieve unreasonable goals. The piece garnered 4,264 comments (and counting). As is the way of the digital world, the story has spawned a mini-publishing ecosystem. Amazon employee Nick Ciubotariu published a post on LinkedIn dismissing the Times story as half-truths and nonsense. That in turn prompted an assessment by Inc.: Who is right? Nick or the Times writers?

And then what should happen to land in my inbox this afternoon? "The 3 Ways Culture Enables Startups To Scale," by Tomasz Tunguz, a partner at venture capital firm Redpoint (which has funded one of my favorite fintech companies, Expensify). To someone betting their money on a new venture, culture is not just a point of philosophical debate. It is a guiding light, a window into the likelihood of success.

Tunguz explains that culture influences who a company is more likely to hire and daily decisions as well as the direction of a business. Tunguz writes:
Contrast Google’s notion “Fast is better than slow” with Apple’s “Don’t ship until it’s perfect.” Neither philosophy is superior to the other, but they will attract different types of people. One encourages risks, while the other champions craftmanship. Google’s culture works for the web, where code pushes are immediate. Apple’s fosters better results in hardware where small mistakes can cost tens or hundreds of millions of dollars. Each philosophy works to maximize the advantages of the company given their constraints.
Can you summarize your culture in one sentence? Do you know its strengths and weaknesses? At NexChange collaboration is a key tenet of our workplace. Let us know in the comments the philosophy drives your business.
Photo: Dennis Skley

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