How many times have you heard someone ask “what’s it like there” when referencing a work place? Usually the answer reveals a lot about the company’s culture. But what the heck, really, is culture? About.com has this to say about culture: “A culture is the values and practices shared by the members of the group. Company Culture, therefore, is the shared values and practices of the company’s employees.”
We can all think of companies where the idea of “culture” is a set of values and practices formulated and dictated down by some group of executives to everyone else. It simply doesn’t work. It’s like trying to smile while doing something you really dislike. Sooner or later your face is going to show your true feelings.
The interesting thing is that company culture CANNOT be dictated down from on high. In fact, by definition it can’t be dictated at all. It has to be shared and created by the members of the group – by the employees. Every individual in a company has something to do with it’s culture simply by virtue of having values and practices. So in my view, culture isn’t so much something that you can create, it just simply is.
This doesn’t make it impossible to create a company with a great culture. In fact all one really needs to do is to work with people who love the same values and practices that you love.
So here is what I love about VendAsta. I get to work with super smart, cool people building really cool stuff that people care about.But it’s more than that. Here are a few things I personally have observed first hand. Things that are not written down or mandated, things that just ARE.
- Mutual Respect: There is no room here for disrespect.
- No Party Line: Not having a party line makes it much easier to tow.
- Be Yourself: We dress, talk, celebrate and act the way we want to. No fear.
- No Dictator: Sure sometimes tough decisions have to be made but never in a dictatorial fashion.
- Mistakes allowed. Personally all I can say about this is “Thank God”.
- No Sacred Cows: ‘nough said
- Open Minds: Minds changed based on information and fact
- Transparency: When you all sit in the same space you have this whether you want it or not.
- Self Assigned responsibility: I don’t think I have ever heard anybody dictate what to do to someone else. Not once.
These are simply some of values and practices that I have observed in the work environment. However, the work environment wasn’t really what I wanted to blog about.
Vendasta is just a baby at just over half a year old so you might think that we don’t really have a lot of “I remember when …” in us. But most of our team has known each other for years and many (in fact most) have worked together for over 7 years. So when we had a summer barbeque and pool party it was especially thrilling to see the entire team, new comers included, interact like it had been together for years.
I think that great companies are a lot like great people. They both have an exciting story to tell and the best stories are built around actual real life experience. The VendAsta summer party of ’08 was one such occasion about which one day we will surely say “I remember when …”.