team-strategy-playing-chess TEAM CULTURE IS EVERYTHING!

If you are part of a team of two, ten or thirty people, you need to know that culture is everything!

The reason? Companies with strong cultures are almost eight times more profitable over the long run.

Team members are also far happier and more productive.

This was driven home in a recent Investors Podcast, with an interview with the author of The Culture Code: Secrets of Highly Successful Groups.


(1) Safety and connection among the members. Safety refers to eliminating fears of making mistakes or sharing ideas, and connection refers to people knowing and caring about each other.

(2) Vulnerability with respect to sharing weaknesses and mistakes. Vulnerability is not about “mushy emotions.”

(3) A strong shared purpose.

Story #1: Kindergartners vs. MBAs.

The author cites a study where groups of Kindergartners, MBAs, CEOs, attorneys and even engineers were put into groups to see which group could build the highest spaghetti tower.

The adult groups all got together to discuss strategy, and did a great job of planning and executing.

The kindergartners discussed nothing and just plunged into the project with sheer chaos, and they won the contest hands down over ALL the other groups.

The kindergartners won b/c they were not worried about “status management” (who was in charge, who might be offended, etc.) and b/c they all felt safe to make mistakes.
B/c of this, they tried, failed and learned far faster.

Story #2: “Collisions” at Zappos

Zappos CEO Tony Hshieh is renowned for the extraordinary culture he created at Zappos. One of the things he does is encourage as many “collisions” as possible among all of his employees on a daily basis.

He wants team members to run into each other and start conversations that often result in better ideas and happier employees. I might add that this is why many companies discourage remote work.

Story #3: Spurs better than Warriors (or not).

The author loves the Spurs b/c the “overall team is so much better than the sum of its individual parts” (the goal of every group). What he means is that the Spurs win far more games than anyone would even expect, given their level of talent.

The reason of course is the team’s culture. Their famously crabby coach takes a genuine interest in everyone, they share meals constantly, and they constantly discuss mistakes and weaknesses in an open and friendly manner.

In contrast, the Warriors are only good b/c of their fabulous talent and b/c their coach graduated from the University of Arizona :) (I’m kidding, btw; the author did not mention the Warriors).

Warm Candor vs Brutal Honesty

Groups need to openly discuss weaknesses and mistakes but with warm candor, and not with brutal honesty. The latter destroys the very necessary need for safety.


Lastly, often repeated meaningful mantras work wonders for establishing a shared purpose. The Spurs, for example, refer to “pounding the rock” whenever they have a problem to solve. They are referring to a story of a stonecutter who just pounds away relentlessly at a large rock and when asked why, he says he never knows which strike of the hammer will be the one to break the rock.

Jay Voorhees
Founder/Broker | JVM Lending
(855) 855-4491 | DRE# 1197176, NMLS# 310167

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