Rajaraman, thank you for your questions - I will try!
— What does it mean when you say, culture isn’t about the vision/passion? Would love for you to unpack it.
The context here (for me at least) is a revenue-funded company, I am acutely aware of our Profit and Loss (Income Statement in the US) - and how headcount for the sake of a vanity metric can really harm it.
Hiring people is the hardest and riskiest thing to do - as you are essentially trusting people to make good decisions on your behalf (the 'principal / agent’ problem). In reality - people have people problems unrelated to your business - and giving them a ‘top down’ vision isn’t necessarily going to help motivate them.
I think the operating culture of the company - who people work with, how much autonomy do they have, can they see results, are they supported by their team and budgets, are much better ways to motivate your team than getting them to sign up to a vision.
In YCBM, a while ago, I set out our vision which was to be ‘a Tiny Company that does Big Things” which means, we want to stay small, lean and agile to enjoy the team and individuals we work with, but also to ensure we can be incredibly productive (less meetings / less management / less barriers).
We have huge ambitions for our product and the way we serve customers, but equally our day to day satisfaction comes from delivering small things repeatedly over time with great people.
— Also, how do you encourage (and enable) the rest of the team to inform/influence the org’s culture?
This is really important - and it starts with hiring the right people and avoiding the wrong people. Without going over it all, here is my 5 min guide to hiring. If I’ve done my job right - we should have hired someone who not only fits into our culture, but also knows when someone is working with us who perhaps isn’t going to be as successful in that role as we had first imagined (which still happens).
It means that we all become the keepers of our culture and the way we like to work - and what we want to do. I can see now we have some real veteran employees who’ve been with us over 5 years this is working - they know who is going to like the way we work and who is going to struggle.