Sustaining Culture

  • Peter S. Cohan


Culture is what people do when the CEO is not watching. When everyone is working together in a single room 80 to 100 hours a week, startups do not need to articulate culture explicitly. However, once a company adds new employees and begins to locate people away from headquarters, the CEO must define and communicate the culture and the company must use it to make key decisions and act. Culture is particularly crucial for a startup as it expands because, if done correctly, it guides people to take independent action in response to threats and opportunities. This idea of culture only makes sense if the company hires people with the potential to be successful entrepreneurs, turning their jobs into a real-world training ground for giving them responsibility for creating and building a new business. In such a company, the CEO does not want to make all the decisions; she wants people to feel that they have the right balance of freedom and guidelines to evaluate threats and opportunities, develop options, and pick the best course of action for the company. Culture is in the center of the seven scaling levers diagram because many of the other six levers flow naturally from culture. And if culture is managed properly, it is a major contributor to the startup’s ability to grow rapidly because decisions are more likely to be made correctly, or if not, to be fixed right away—and far more quickly than they would if the CEO made all the decisions.

Copyright information

© Peter S. Cohan 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter S. Cohan
    • 1
  1. 1.MarlboroughUSA

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