This post is part of The Holloway Syllabus series. We’ll publish new Holloway Syllabi every other week, and you can read and search the contents of all of them in one place in The Holloway Modern Work Library. To create this Holloway Syllabus, we put in more than 40 hours of research and worked with Tom Eisenmann from Harvard Business School, Nadia Eghbal from Protocol Labs, and Dasha Maggio from Felicis Ventures to pull together and vet great resources. We believe this is the most comprehensive and authoritative list (over 230 resources!) to help you master the ins and outs of company culture.
The concept of “company culture” often seems to be something between a buzzword, an enigma, and a feeling, so what is it really? Company culture is an expression of shared values, a reflection of leadership, the way colleagues relate to and treat one another, a sense of safety and belonging, a question of how a company reacts to the challenges it faces, and more. As demonstrated by the resources in Why does company culture matter? and the case studies in The Risks of Getting Culture Wrong, company culture can be a source of profitability and a reason excellent employees stay, or it can lead to wrongdoing, disaffection, and even criminal investigation.
This syllabus draws together resources that will help you learn about the many dimensions of company culture, as well as tips and tools that can help you build, change, and scale your own. While all of its sections could easily expand into their own deep dives, we have selected key resources that will give you the overview you need to grapple with the main concepts and controversies in each. If you work at a company, are thinking of starting a company, or even just interact with others, this syllabus is for you.
Don’t Fuck Up the Culture — Brian Chesky
The Difference Between Culture and Values — Matt Blumberg
audioModern Manager Podcast: Be a Culture Change Agent with Wes Kao — Mamie Kanfer Stewart and Wes Kao
There’s a lot of good advice out there on how to give feedback effectively. We consider this a net positive. That said, readers may find it more daunting to read each and every one of these resources, and we suggest that you take a look through, focusing now on any that apply to particular situations in which you find yourself and returning to this list as you face new challenges or seek to grow.
For more in-depth discussions on diversity and inclusion, check out the Holloway Guide to Raising Venture Capital ("Bias and Discrimination in Fundraising") and the Holloway Guide to Technical Recruiting and Hiring ("Part II: Diversity and Inclusion in Tech" and "Appendix B: Diversity and Inclusion Reading List").
videoHow to Start a Startup #10: Culture, Part 1 — Alfred Lin and Brian Chesky — Describing the process of building culture at Zappos and AirBnB
For more information on hiring for technical roles, take a look at the Holloway Guide to Technical Recruiting and Hiring.
videoHow to Start a Startup #11: Hiring & Culture, Part 2 — Patrick Collison, John Collison, and Ben Silbermann
We Fired Our Top Talent. Best Decision We Ever Made. — Jonathan Solórzano-Hamilton
If you’re interested in distributed teams, check out Holloway’s Syllabus on Remote Work. The full Holloway Guide to Remote Work will publish in Spring 2020. To get an exclusive discount on the Guide, join our waitlist!
We’ve included articles here that you might see cited for their takes on organizational culture. We’re sure the authors have the best intentions, but we’ve found their advice to be counterproductive. In particular, we recommend that readers think twice before asking colleagues or employees to work for equity only, at all hours, in explicitly non-diverse cultures, and so on. Such expectations can undermine an inclusive culture.
slidesNetflix Culture Deck
slidesHubspot Culture Deck