Discover more from Munday Curve
Culture: Early Days - Dive #2
Culture: Early Days
What does creation and implementation of culture from the earliest stages of a company look like? I'm talking pre-product, pre-launch, less than a handful of teammates. No one has ever drawn me a map to follow, and with things evolving so rapidly in workspace communities, let me give you the google map directions to download and execute for 2022 and beyond.
In 2022, your tech startup's culture should revolve around these:
Honesty, Trust & Respect
Communication: Closed Loop Feedback Systems
Social media is littered with content around culture. Headers like leadership, strategy, vision, community and innovation are at the top of optimized bait lists for creators to get views and clicks. Threads on "how you can do it too!!", followed by a list of cliché cookie-cutter anecdotes are the norm. Most of it isn't real. It isn't happening in real time. They profit off of our desire to be better, using skewed revisionist history.
Initially at Elevate we were focused on building and generating awareness of our company, which was a wonderful excuse to leave teammates out of the loop. We created a disconnected environment and then tried to force synchronicity amongst our team to make up for the lack of communication. Don't get me started on when we would sprint. We'd take off and forget the baton at the starting line along with the people we brought in to learn from, lean on and support.
What can I say, that's the first time founder's curse. We don't know what we don't know... but we learned. And we learned quickly.
Hybrid, Communication & Engaged Documentation
Building the foundation of culture has never been more scalable and easy to execute than it is today. Everyday there is a new SaaS tool making an awesome case for why it should be a part of our company's operations stack. Everything we utilize, embraces the understanding: To do hybrid successfully, we must prioritize closed loop feedback communication and engaged documentation.
Closed Loop Feedback Systems?
This has become a pretty buzzy concept, but for those who aren't familiar, we use this simple framework at Elevate. If someone reaches out about anything. We respond until there is clarity, a solution, or a plan on how to figure out the solution. I'm sure this will work splendidly with users as well. It's good for team morale and it's great business.
What is engaged documentation?
It means that a concept memo, a key design, a code review or any substantive documentation is never naked. It is layered with comments, project resources, zoom recordings, that not only informs the teammates that are here today, but catches up the ones that join tomorrow.
High Velocity, High Agency
Outside of athletics, speed and determination don't often go hand in hand, unless you're in a startup. The two most critical qualities a founder and their startup must have are high agency and high velocity, respectively.
Why do we start companies? To make an impact. Why do investors bet on them? They believe you can make one. Impact is defined as one entity coming forcibly into contact with another. 'Another' being the stale market that's about to feel your speed and determination. In 2009, Paul Graham, cofounder of Y Combinator, wrote an essay called Relentlessly Resourceful.
He explains that in startups obstacles are often external and you can't simply plow through them, because you don't know initially how hard they are; you don't know whether you're about to plow through a block of foam or granite. So you have to be resourceful. You have to try new things.
I believe being relentlessly resourceful and having high agency are synonyms and finding people who are dripping in this assertiveness and use these powers to make everyone's job a little easier is key to efficiency, sustainable velocity and ultimate success.
Honesty, Trust & Respect
I wanted to put this here as less of an insight, and more of a reminder. This bunch is the most important and why I listed it first in the tl;dr. When we aren't physically around our colleagues, interacting everyday, we sometimes neglect how much of our professional communication revolves around behaviors and outcomes displayed on rectangular screens. Mindfulness of our digital behavior is paramount, and now more than ever it must be up to par with how we would interact in-person. Treating people as equals, like adults, and being respectful of each other's time are the only acceptable behavioral standards anymore. Without them, any positive outcomes will be short-lived.
Creation of a hybrid, communicative, engaged, resourceful team cannot happen successfully if you do not instill a culture that revolves around honesty, trust and respect. It comes first and it comes last.
Sign up for early access to Elevate here 👇🔽🤿