The Holloway Syllabus on Company Culture

230+ resources you need to learn the ins and outs of company culture.
Haley S. Anderson
▪︎ 24 minutes read time


Culture is the tacit social order of an organization: It shapes attitudes and behaviors in wide-ranging and durable ways. Cultural norms define what is encouraged, discouraged, accepted, or rejected within a group. When properly aligned with personal values, drives, and needs, culture can unleash tremendous amounts of energy toward a shared purpose and foster an organization’s capacity to thrive. Boris Groysberg, Jeremiah Lee, Jesse Price, and J. Yo-Jud Cheng (The Culture Factor)

To create this resource list, 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. 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. It can be a source of profitability and a reason excellent employees stay, or it can lead to wrongdoing, disaffection, and even criminal conduct.

Company Culture 101


What Is Company Culture?

Why Does Company Culture Matter?

Elements of Company Culture


What Are Company Values?

How Are Values Put Into Action?

Organizational Structure

Why Does Structure Matter?

What Kind of Structure Should You Have?

Good Leadership

Leaders’ Impact on Culture

Positive Leadership Qualities

Developing Leaders




Communication Roadblocks

Effective Feedback Loops

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.

Communicating About Company Culture

Trust and Empathy


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”).

Why Inclusion Matters

  • Tech Leavers Study — Kapor Center for Social Impact — Finds that “unfair treatment is the single largest driver of turnover affecting all groups, and most acutely affects underrepresented professionals.” Recommends that “diversity and inclusion initiatives can improve culture and reduce turnover—if they are done right.”
  • Delivering through diversity — Vivian Hunt, Lareina Yee, Sara Prince, and Sundiatu Dixon-Fyle (McKinsey & Company) — demonstrating that gender and ethnic diversity are clearly correlated with profitability
  • The one startup debt you can’t pay back — Phin Barnes — Describing the risks of diversity debt
  • loginDiversity Doesn’t Stick Without Inclusion — Laura Sherbin and Ripa Rashid

Building an Inclusive Culture

Tools for Promoting Inclusion

Goal Setting

Meeting Challenges

Managing Conflict

Growing From Mistakes

Building and Scaling Company Culture

Building a Company Culture

Scaling a Company Culture

Pitfalls in Establishing and Expanding Company Culture

Hiring and Culture Fit

Hiring and Retaining

Hiring for “Culture Fit”

Alternatives to “Culture Fit”

Firing and Leadership Changes


When and Why to Fire

How to Fire

Leadership Changes

Office Space

Open Plan Offices Pros and Cons

Company Culture with Distributed Teams

Remote Teams

Working with Contractors

The Risks of Getting Culture Wrong

Case Study: GitHub

Case Study: Uber

Case Study: Volkswagen

Case Study: Wells Fargo

Controversial Takes

Further Resources

Reference Cases



Free Tools

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