Building a Winning Culture in a High Growth Environment

Satbir Khanuja
Satbir Khanuja
President and CEO, 
Jeffrey Katzenberg, co-founder of DreamWorks, sums up the value of good company culture in a nice quote: “Our philosophy is that if you love your work, and you love coming to work, then the work will be exceptional.” According to a Bain & Company survey of senior executives at global companies, 91 percent of 1,200 executives agreed that “culture is as important as strategy for business success.” Building an entrepreneurial and productive culture is essential to building a successful and a great company. I have been part of two high growth companies – first at Amazon and now at DataSphere Technologies, where our culture has been instrumental in driving 250 percent year over year revenue growth and an increase in staff over the same period from 35 to more than 400 people. In both instances, I have seen culture play a big role in driving the success of the companies throughout the growth cycle. It is also critically important in weathering the inevitable dark days and maximizing opportunities presented when things are going well. Many other highly successful companies such as Netflix and Zappos have similarly stressed the importance of their company culture in driving business growth.

In this article, I will share the principles you can utilize to build an amazing productive culture for your company.
Set up company philosophy so that everyone is aligned
We have built a culture where every employee is asked to act as a CEO of their role and leverage others as resources to best service their customers. We have also established key company philosophies that guide everyone’s actions-

a) Pursue “game changing” opportunities

b) Obsess about delivering value to customers

c) Create compelling value for all team members

d) Provide a culture where the “best ideas” win

e) Work hard, have fun, make a huge impact

It is very important to choose values that everyone in the company can believe in, embrace, apply, and evangelize. Communicate core philosophies of your company to potential candidates during the recruitment process so that they can self assess if they want to be part of your company’s journey. Do a company orientation for all new employees in their first week of employment led by executives. Go over the company’s values, with lots of examples, so that everyone is crystal clear about the company’s guiding principles. It is also helpful to pick successful role model companies that you would like to emulate and share the rationale with your team. Our current role models are Amazon.com, Netflix, and Google. Drawing specific parallels between well known “great” companies and our company helps employees share the vision of where the company can go with their help. We explain that these role model companies aren’t just household names because they are lucky, they are great because they created an amazing culture of continuous innovation to deliver value to customers and employees.
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