The best companies define what they value most in the form of principles — and apply them in critical areas, such as evaluating talent and making business decisions. This creates a culture of freedom and responsibility designed for the pace of change in business today.
Amazon and Netflix are two examples of strong cultures with decades of outperformance. Both invested heavily in their organizational design and use principles to guide their people and strategy.
If you review Amazon’s Leadership Principles or Netflix’s culture memo, you’ll notice they are centered on specific actions that can be implemented and measured, as opposed to vague sounding values, like “excellence.“
Actionable principles empower individuals to exercise their own judgement without much oversight, as long as they align with the most important things at the company.
“Your culture is how your company makes decisions when you’re not there. It’s the set of assumptions your employees use to resolve the problems they face every day. It’s how they behave when no one is looking. If you don’t methodically set your culture, two-thirds of it will end up being accidental, and the rest will be a mistake.” — Ben Horowitz, Andressen Horowitz
So if that’s true, what actions lead to finding and keeping product-market fit? Does your team work to improve their judgement by seeking diverse perspectives? Can you achieve wildly ambitious goals if your entire company operated that way?
Get started brainstorming ideas for your company principles with the short exercise below. Blend what you feel is needed to win your market with the best attributes of current or former colleagues. When completed, you’ll receive a summary of your answers for the next section.