Differing Corporate Cultures and Success

Back in the early Pardot days we defined our core values as positive, self-starting, and supportive. These values were used extensively in our hiring process, quarterly check-ins, and the day-to-day running of the business. Only, we had an arch enemy competitor that was cut-throat, aggressive, and, generally, the antithesis of our style. Yet, both companies were wildly successful.

HBR has an article up titled Proof That Positive Work Cultures Are More Productive where the author cites data supporting the Pardot-style as being more productive. Yet, organizations like Oracle are well known for their aggressive culture, while still being incredibly successful. How can cultures with completely different styles be so successful?

The answer: whatever the culture, it needs to be cohesive throughout.

If some people are cut-throat and inconsiderate while others are positive and self-starting, that’s going to be a challenging culture. If everyone is cut-throat, and that culture is cohesive, it’ll be able to succeed. A popular business book titled The No Ass Hole Rule, which argues bullying behavior hurts morale and productivity, cites Steve Jobs as a prime example, but we know how successful Apple became under his leadership. Apple has strong values and a cohesive culture.

There’s no one “right” culture — there are too many different, successful companies with varying cultures. What’s important is that entrepreneurs make a focused effort on building a great culture that’s cohesive and strong in their own style.

What else? What are some more thoughts on differing corporate cultures and success?

2 thoughts on “Differing Corporate Cultures and Success

  1. Hey David! I agree that there is no one “right” culture or formula that equals a company’s success, but this is why many companies emphasize that the people and the talent be a match. Netflix and Amazon are two other companies known for being widely successful while driving a strong, competitive, and even cut-throat culture. Those who do well in that environment thrive alongside the company.

    An organization’s culture is broken if the vision is not seen executed throughout the company. I sort of think it’s like cognitive dissonance…I see a company failing if it attempts to establish a type of culture that is positive, supportive, and full of self-starters, for example, but it hires individuals who do not fit this mold. Or, perhaps it does hire individuals who fit the mold, but the company doesn’t act upon those cultural values (e.g. no support systems in place, prominent negative attitudes, or hiring individuals who are unqualified). If the company and workforce hold contradictory beliefs or perceptions, then failure is imminent.

    I think perhaps all I did was agree wholeheartedly with your comment about cohesiveness, but these are my two cents 🙂

  2. In my mind it is most important to truly represent the values of its leader(ship). And, everyone needs a no asshole rule.

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