Sheryl Sandberg caused a lot of buzz this week, saying that the Netflix document about culture is the most important document to ever go out of the valley.
A company’s culture is its DNA; it’s how people manifest the vision and values of a company. In a good company most people would be able to define the company’s culture easily, and even more would be able to say if something is within the company’s vision or not.
What really surprises me is how the traditional business culture is very different from the new ‘tech’ culture. Most of the ‘cool’ companies like Netflix, Yahoo, Google, Facebook (and eToro) and many more are talking about culture and talent in a very similar way, they promote openness, leadership, simplicity of design and all emphasize that freedom and enjoyment of the people in the company are key factors in delivering innovation and creativity. “Old companies” promote rules, procedures, policies and rigid management which kills innovation. Its amazing how the Techies culture, and the 60’s Hippies culture are close, you say the social media revolution is the pragmatic manifestation of the “make love not war” dogma.
Culture, by definition, is not a set of rules. It is how we communicate what cannot be communicated explicitly. It is not about right and wrong, but rather about what everybody communicates, how everyone sits (open-space), how people communicate (no hierarchy), who people go to eat lunch with, what and how everything is communicated.
All great companies understand their ability innovate depends on their employees’ freedom to do what they want and to want what’s best for the company. They are able to give great freedom, but employees also take the responsibility that come with that freedom.
Freedom isn’t the ability to do whatever you want. It’s the willingness to do whatever you want.
In his new book, The Icarus Deception, Seth Godin explains over and over this brave new world we are entering, where people have the freedom to choose what they want to do, and companies just need to provide the best environment possible for them to make their dreams come true .