The 9 most important cultural values – Donald Sull, Charlie Sull, and Andrew Chamberlain

Donald Sull, Senior Lecturer, MIT Sloan School of Management

Andrew Chamberlain, Chief Economist, Glassdoor

From the HR People + Strategy Blog.

Company culture matters more now than ever. The average employee spends 40 percent of their waking hours at work.  A toxic corporate culture can not only be soul destroying, but it can sink a company. On the other hand, a vibrant culture can help people thrive professionally, enjoy their job, and find meaning in their work. A growing body of research has shown that a good corporate culture can lead to better financial performance, more innovation, and greater customer satisfaction.

A recent survey of CEOs and CFOs found that 9 out of 10 believe that improving corporate culture would increase their company’s value, and nearly 80 percent ranked culture among the five most important factors driving their company’s valuation. Companies listed among the best places to work based on their corporate culture delivered nearly 20 percent higher returns to shareholders than comparable companies over a five-year period. And, according to Glassdoor data, company culture is among the top factors that job seekers consider as part of their job search.

But what exactly is “culture”? Culture has often been an arbitrary term measured on a binary good or bad scale, with no clear guidelines on what makes a culture “good” and “healthy” or “bad” and “toxic.”

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Spark team creativity by embracing uncertainty – Aithan Shapira

Aithan Shapira, Lecturer, MIT Sloan School of Management

From MIT Sloan Management Review

As an artist who also works for a business school, I often talk with managers about how to inspire more creativity from their teams. It’s not that these managers don’t appreciate their left-brained, analytically oriented employees. On the contrary: They value their logic and practicality. Still, they lament, something is missing. Managers today seek inspired ideas, inventive solutions, ingenuity, originality, and new pathways to innovation. But their teams are not delivering.

The problem is not that professionals lack creative impulses but that they are too focused on getting the creative process right. For example, in supporting organizations that are implementing agile methodologies, I work with many teams so consumed by getting their chapters aligned or doing their sprints correctly that they miss the opportunities that spark imagination. They avoid the unknown — the uncertainty that breeds creativity.

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Why we need to redefine start-up culture with positive mental health habits – Kathleen Stetson and Trish Cotter

Trish Cotter, Senior Lecturer, MIT Sloan School of Management

Kathleen Stetson, Entrepreneur Coach, MIT Sloan MBA ’14

From Thrive Global

Anxiety and depression are rampant among entrepreneurs. The stereotype of a founder — fueled by caffeine and ramen noodles, while forgoing sleep, exercise, fresh air, friends, and family in the quest for success — has been the norm for years. It has been encouraged, and even glorified, by start-up culture.


The Inc. article “The Psychological Price of Entrepreneurship” explores this topic and explains, “the same passionate dispositions that drive founders heedlessly toward success can sometimes consume them. Business owners are ‘vulnerable to the dark side of obsession.’” Yet this is not healthy or helpful for long-term success.

Compounding this problem is the start-up founder’s hesitation to show weakness or self-doubt. They feel the need to project confidence for investors and employees, despite any inner insecurities. They also tend to connect their self-worth and identity to their start-ups, which can lead to feelings of depression if their start-up fails.

Read the full post at Thrive Global.

Trish Cotter is executive director of the Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship, director of the delta v accelerator, and an entrepreneur-in-residence at the MIT Sloan School of Management.

Kathleen Stetson is an entrepreneur coach, the creator of Entrepreneurial Confidence and Communication, and an MIT Sloan alumna.

Why company culture matters for strategic results – Donald Sull

Donald Sull, Senior Lecturer, MIT Sloan School of Management

From MIT Sloan Management Review

You don’t have to look far in the news headlines to find examples of how a good corporate culture can turbocharge performance, while a bad culture can wreak havoc on a company’s reputation and results.

Relying on culture — rather than detailed rules or micromanagement — to shape behavior provides employees the flexibility to seize unexpected opportunities, adapt to local circumstances, and respond quickly to shifting market conditions. Corporate culture, like an organization’s strategic priorities or objectives and key results, represents a powerful way to align behavior with a company’s strategy and mission while allowing employees to exercise judgment and initiative. Culture, in short, is critical to striking the balance between strategic alignment and organizational agility.

With the Culture 500 tool, managers and employees can explore how culture compares among more than 500 leading companies. For leaders, this interactive framework provides an actionable way to think about culture along nine key dimensions, to provide clarity on where companies are leading and lagging when it comes to aligning culture with strategic results.

Read the full post at MIT Sloan Management Review.

Donald Sull is a Senior Lecturer at the MIT Sloan School of Management and cofounder of CultureX.

Can Uber evolve – quickly? – Court Chilton

MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer Court Chilton

From Entrepreneur

I’m a huge fan of Uber and use its services all the time. Still, I can’t deny it’s been a tough couple of weeks for Uber. A blog post by a woman employee who credibly seems to be claiming sexual harassment and retaliation for making those claims was widely covered in the media. Days later, a video that showed the CEO arguing vehemently with an Uber driver about rates went viral. Plus, revelations about “grey-balling” — preventing certain people from accessing the Uber system — put the company in an unfavorable light with a number of different stakeholders.

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