The following is an edited internal memo I sent out to the SmallBox team last week.
"Brand is a lagging indicator of Culture" - Tony Hsieh
I talk a lot about the importance of culture, but what is culture and what connection, if any, does it have to our bottom line?
-- For me culture is our collective sense of humor, how we talk, how we collaborate, how we make each other feel, what we find fascinating, how we talk about SmallBox with others, where we work, what gear and gadgets we use, how we dress, what we do with our free time, what music we listen to, books we read, food we eat, bars we go to. It's almost like a smell or taste. Something you know when you see it. It's what makes us different from other companies. --
On a high level I see the connection between Culture and Profit as follows:
Culture informs Brand which informs Marketing which creates Sales which generates Profit.
Surrounding all of this is Experience. We are looking to create an experience for our clients and their customers. Experience is a very human thing. It can be augmented by technology but underneath it there is a very human element. There is no way to really fake it. This is why culture matters to our bottom line. If we don't have a team that works well together, has fun, is excited about projects and exudes confidence and creativity then we will not have the opportunities we need to be a successful and profitable company.
We cannot create the right client experiences without the right culture. Amazing experiences lead to clients that can't wait to tell everyone they know about us. It leads to long relationships where we can bring real value to a client. If we bring real value then they will have no problem writing checks.
Everyone here is in the people business first and technology second. Technology is just a platform, like paper. It's our native platform and we have excellent tools and a good deal of experience on that platform but our focus needs to be on the humans not the computers. Computers, at least any I've met, don't write checks.
Additional Thought: to be a crass capitalist, a company with a good culture can attract and retain talent at a lower cost since improved quality of life offsets pay.