Every organization has a culture. But not every organization has the kind of culture that will help that organization achieve success. Matt Monge says that organizations should take Socrates’ advice and “know thyself”. Monge says, “…we have to be willing to ask ourselves tough questions and give honest answers.”
Assessing the culture of an organization by asking tough questions and being willing to hear the answers is the basis for significant organizational improvement. And being able to explain the culture in-use in comparison to the espoused culture is critical to gaining the trust and engagement of employees, recruits, and business partners.
We take culture very seriously, and we do draw a distinction at LinkedIn between culture and values. Culture is who we are. It’s essentially the personality of our company — who we are and who we aspire to be. Values are the principles upon which we make day-to-day decisions. And of course your values are a subset of your culture, so they’re very much inextricably linked. Getting that right helps with recruiting. It helps with motivating. It helps with inspiring. It helps with productivity…our culture has five dimensions: transformation, integrity, collaboration, humor and results. And there are six values: members first; relationships matter; be open, honest and constructive; demand excellence; take intelligent risks; and act like an owner. And by far the most important one is members first. We as a company are only as valuable as the value we create for our members.
I assume Weiner knows what he is talking about. According to his company Web site, “LinkedIn operates the world’s largest professional network on the Internet with more than 187 million members in over 200 countries and territories.” In my experience Linkedin has become the go-to place for developing professional connections, conducting job searches, and communicating with communities of practice. If Linkedin has truly been able to create and maintain that kind of culture given its growth, I'm very impressed.
Many new, fast growing, high performance companies like Linkedin are demonstrating the value of paying attention to culture. They know themselves, and they are able to articulate that intentional cultures to others. The question is, “Will these companies be able to sustain their ideal cultures as they become large and multi-national and feel the heat from competitors? Will they be able to stay as employee-centered, flexible, transparent, cross-functional, and team-based as they were during start-up and early phases of growth?