All Winning Cultures Do This One Thing

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We have so much data about what makes the best organizations tick, so it just makes sense that I’m asked, “What are winning cultures made of?”

Problem is, we’ve never seen the same culture twice. Here you’ll see the unique culture data of three successful companies (we’re talking hundreds of millions of dollars in acquisitions each!) and learn the one thing all winning cultures have in common: laser focus on aligning their culture, operational strategy and goals.

Download the white paper “Culture Change vs. Culture Alignment,” to get Dr. Natalie’s take on Culture Alignment.

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SolidFire – $870MM Acquisition

Intro:  Like a lot of hyper-growth companies, SolidFire promoted from within. As the company grew, responsibility for culture shifted from executives to a team of first time managers.

Opportunity: To maintain their winning culture, these first-time people leaders needed to align their management styles to the unique culture of their teams to keep everyone pulling in the same direction.

Approach:  Managers were armed with data about their team’s values (preferences for rewards, communication, decision making, etc…). This intel made it easy for these first time leaders to align their management strategy to their team’s unique wiring.

SolidFire: Winning Cultures
Distribution of Top 4 Values at SolidFire

Outcome:  Teams flat-out exceeded expectations. A rock solid culture provided the foundation for industry defying growth. Within 18 months SolidFire added over 100 employees and was acquired for $870MM.

MakerBot – $403MM Acquisition

Intro: For MakerBot founder Bre Petis, a winning culture was an innovative culture. By 2012 MakerBot was firing on all cylinders and it was time to grow. Unfortunately, feathers were ruffled and innovation was stifled when a new employee didn’t fit the culture.

Opportunity:  To retain tenured employees and scale their culture of innovation. Bre and Head of People, Jenny Lawton knew candidates needed to be aligned with the culture that had brought them this far.

Approach:  MakerBot created a hiring profile and crafted behavioral interview questions based on data about incumbent employees. This made it easy to assess culture fit and hire innovative candidates.

MakerBot: Winning Cultures
Distribution of MakerBot Top 4 Values

Outcome: Innovation lead to success. In the next two years MakerBot added 400 employees. From the chart you can see that core values changed very little. Jenny Lawton was recognized for these achievements and promoted to President prior to their $403MM acquisition by Stratasys.

Rosetta – $575MM Acquisition

Intro:  Nigel Adams, Chief Talent Officer, came to us with the idea of “One Rosetta.” He believed that  winning cultures must be aligned around common values and goals. This would create a great experience for employees and clients.

Opportunity:  To realize his vision for One Rosetta, Nigel needed to remove the silos and misalignment between teams that naturally form in a heavily matrixed organization.

Approach:  To achieve One Rosetta the People Services Team aligned every aspect of the employee life cycle to their culture. For Rosetta this had three main components:

  1. Hire – Candidates must fit the Company culture and the subculture of their specific team
  2. Manage – Leaders must align their style to the entire organization and specific team culture
  3. Engagement – Measured at the “local-level”, so managers could re-engage direct reports.

Rosetta: Winning Cultures

Outcome:  People and strategy aligned and Rosetta ascended to “One Rosetta.” The unified organization drew the attention of suitors and merged with Razorfish. Rosetta People Services Team was promoted and tasked to bring this same approach to the new Razorfish Global.

These three examples show that there is no “right culture.”  Winning cultures are aligned with the organization’s operational strategy and tactics.


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