“Having a Culture Code gives a sense of identity to the organization, and helps strengthen community identity. When such guidelines are embodied into a company’s DNA, each and every person feels empowered and connected by those values.” — Shivam Dhawan, Arbunize founder
Five years after CEO Reed Hastings’ famous Netflix Culture deck, which detailed the inner workings of employee culture at Netflix, dozens of companies like Arbunize have followed suit, sharing their own Culture Codes on SlideShare. Some like Asana and Swiggle emphasize how they focus on employee success. Others like WineDirect and Zappos share how they place high value on customers. IDEO and Buffer (and many others!) share their list of company values, while Spotify and GoKart Labs reveal how they implement team culture. (View all #CultureCode decks.)
“Defining a culture provides us a unifying feeling of belonging,” Dhawan says.
Says WineDirect CEO Joe Waechter: “When you get the culture right, all things are possible.”
Want to create a #CultureCode deck of your own? A few of our #CultureCode participants provide some tips. We’ve also created a free, downloadable #CultureCode PowerPoint template to help you get started.
#1 ASK & ASSESS
Whether you’ve already established a set of company values or are looking to create one, it’s important to get input from all levels of your organization, says Lindsey Jones, DoubleDutch marketing associate.
“You really need to look at the everyday workings of your internal company culture and figure out what exactly is important to you,” Jones says. “It’s really important to come together as a group and figure out what values you want to live by as a team on a day-to-day basis.”
Hppy Apps marketing officer Paula Clapon had similar advice: “Start with your current team and define these guidelines. Take into account the business as well as the personal perspective when deciding what is in and what is out,” she says. “Get everyone on board and learn what drives the people behind the company.” (View Hppy App’s Culture Code)
#2 DEFINE YOUR VISION & VALUES
Your Culture Code is a chance to articulate to employees and outsiders what you stand for, what you believe in, and what you value — and don’t. Easier said than done, right? Here are some questions to ask yourself:
1) What culture values do you think currently exist within your company?
2) What changes need to be made?
3) What kind of employees do you want to join your organization? What values should they embody?
4) Will your set of values help employees make decisions?
5) What values connect your service with your customers?
Spotify’s director of engineering, Kevin Goldsmith, who shared his deck on how Spotify creates its engineering culture, says it’s also important to include what might not be working in your company.
“The Culture Codes that resonate with me are the ones that talk about not only what’s good about the culture, but the way they arrive at that, the problem they have and the problems they anticipate,” Goldsmith says. “I want to know why you’ve come to this and where it doesn’t work.”
#3 SHOW YOUR CULTURE
Stating your values is one thing. But turning them into visual statements and showing how, exactly, your values play out in your company will make your Culture Code that much stronger.
Arbunize created their Culture Code with a Star Wars theme to illustrate their values. Dhawan says he’s always been fascinated by the philosophies behind Star Wars, and it was therefore a no-brainer to depict Arbunize’s culture this way.
Jones began creating DoubleDutch’s Culture Code by deciding which photos she thought best represented each core value and how she wanted to communicate them.
“Nail down three or four key values that can be internal reminders for every employee on how to think about their day-to-day tasks and projects,” Jones says. “Then from there go into figuring out how those can be visually depicted, whether it be by outlining what each value means or showcasing actual photos that represent that value.”
#4 UPDATE AS YOU EVOLVE
Culture Codes don’t need to be set in stone — in fact, they often evolve over time, as a company grows, or changes direction or management. Spotify’s Goldsmith says the culture within his 70-person team is an ongoing discussion.
“We share tips, we share experiences. We talk about what’s working well, we talk about what’s not working well on a team perspective,” he says.