Questions of Company Culture

We have to pat ourselves on the back a little bit and say that we’re rather pleased to have made it to our second official round of the Bizniz Book Club. Such initiatives have a tendency to go overlooked and so we’re glad to be making reading (and learning) an integral part of daily life at Sprout.

This last Friday we congregated to recap our findings from the past two weeks and think a little bit about how we can apply our learnings to Sprout. That, and Jon and Laura made caiparinhas. Laura is recently back from some South American gallivanting and had the genuine Cachaça to match.


So, armed with alcohol, we soldiered on.

Most of our discussion about How Google Works hinged on the idea of the smart creative; dynamic employees with self-confidence, a knack for quick-thinking, getting things done and constantly innovating. As the book mentions, all smart creatives must possess “business savvy, technical knowledge, creative energy, and a hands-on approach to getting things done. Those are the fundamentals”. In a new era of the workplace, much more value is being placed on think-on-their feet, creative and flexible employees rather than by-the-book workers who favour direction and routine.

In a similar vein, Linchpin by Seth Godin outlines the importance of becoming an indispensable career person in a work environment that is radically different from the historical precedent we have come to expect. We found that a managerial reading of How Google Works combined with a more personal reading of Linchpin gave us a good understanding of how modern concepts of the workplace function at both a company and individual level.

So, how can Sprout harness the creative potential of their employees? Does it come down to being given the space to do so (managerial decision, as How Google Works would suggest) or taking the initiative to do so (personal risk, as Linchpin would suggest)? We pretty readily agreed it was a subtle combination of the two. Creative, driven employees should be given space to generate ideas and own projects in order to thrive in the work environment. And by doing the latter, the former will also be created.

We touched on potentially codifying Sprout’s core values to create a more overt company culture and ethos to ascribe to. In Google’s words, a case of “believing your own slogans”.

All-in-all, a very agreeable meeting. There were only two divisive key points that caused some heated debate which we resolved to think about in our own time.

  1. Is work-life balance a myth? Is, or should, life be somehow separate from work, or does work form an integral part of life itself?
  2. As performance partners, do we serve clients or consumers?

We’ll see if we have any more solid answers for these questions next time. In a bid to curb our enthusiastic babble (we went well-past our allotted hour meeting duration), we’re going to précis our personal findings for our next meeting, present them to the group, and then decide on an overarching topic to which we can all contribute. Until then, happy reading!

On our reading list for next time

  • Switch, Chip & Dan Heath
  • Scaling Up, Verne Harnish
  • Where Good Ideas Come From, Steven Johnson
Questions of Company Culture

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