I was having lunch with a friend.  “So what does it really mean to be best place to work? He asked me.  “Do you have ping pong tables? A beer tap on Friday afternoons?  An exotic health insurance plan?”

It was soon after PCI had been named the #1 midsize company to work for in Texas for the second time by Texas Monthly magazine and the Texas Association for Business (which is determined by surveying associates about how engaged they are at work).

I told him that wasn’t it.

Those aren’t bad things.  They just have very little to do with being a best place to work.

Fortune magazine has named Google the #1 best company to work for in the world seven times.  In his book, Work Rules!: Insights from Inside Google That Will Transform How You Live and Lead, longtime Google People Operations leader Laszlo Bock shares if you do a Google search for “google culture” you will see images of beanbags chairs, free gourmet food, and a photo of someone riding a bike through the office.

The implication is that Google is about fun or work-as-play.  Laszlo tells us while there is an element of truth to that, Google’s culture has much deeper roots.

MIT Professor Edgar Schein writes that organizational culture can be studied in three ways:

1: Artifacts – these are characteristics of the organization which can be easily viewed, heard and felt by individuals.  Examples include physical space, the dress code, behaviors of associates

2: Values: these are the beliefs and values espoused by group members Examples include the thought processes and attitudes of associates which deeply impact culture

3: The underlying assumptions underneath the values.  Examples include rules and practices which are not discussed often but understood on their own. 

Laszlo believes people interpret strong cultures based on artifacts because they’re the most visible.  But, the values and assumptions are much more important. In Google’s case, fun is an outcome rather than a defining characteristic.  


Reflection:  What do I find most inspiring about my organization’s culture?

Action:  Take action today to live one of our values.

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