Combative Culture Emboldens Innovator Passion

Great comment by Simon Anderson, CEO of DreamHost, about culture in the New York Times “Corner Office” column today (Friday 13 September) – I thought he was right on the mark. Here’s what he had to say: “When people talk about culture, they often think that culture is about the lunches and that sort of thing. We don’t really see culture like that. Culture’s a full-contact sport. You’re fighting for what you believe in. Culture is debate. It’s argument. It’s messy, and for culture to be strong, people have to be fighting and challenging each other.”

I don’t quite buy into “fighting.” But man, you should be at some of our meetings! We challenge continuously and occasionally the fur flies. After the meeting is over, we come together and enjoy a great lunch, while having done our best to avoid leaving any elephants in the room.

“Combative Culture” in my mind helps release the passions of committed innovators by encouraging everyone at every level to jump into the ring without fear of reprisal.

I have to admit, however, that unless one has worked in the trenches of Manhattan or run the start-up gauntlet in Silicon Valley, it takes a while for newcomers to buy-in to this culture.