Today’s fastest growing, most profoundly impactful companies are using a completely different operating model. These companies are lean, mean, learning machines. They have an intense bias to action and a tolerance for risk, expressed through frequent experimentation and relentless product iteration. They hack together products and services, test them, and improve them, while their legacy competition edits PowerPoint. They are obsessed with company culture and top tier talent, with an emphasis on employees that can imagine, build, and test their own ideas. They are maniacally focused on customers. They are hypersensitive to friction – in their daily operations and their user experience. They are open, connected, and build with and for their community of users and co-conspirators. They are comfortable with the unknown – business models and customer value are revealed over time. They are driven by a purpose greater than profit; each has its own aspirational “dent in the universe.” We may simply refer to them as the first generation of truly responsive organizations.
Why is culture so important to a business? Here is a simple way to frame it. The stronger the culture, the less corporate process a company needs. When the culture is strong, you can trust everyone to do the right thing. People can be independent and autonomous. They can be entrepreneurial. And if we have a company that is entrepreneurial in spirit, we will be able to take our next “(wo)man on the moon” leap. Ever notice how families or tribes don’t require much process? That is because there is such a strong trust and culture that it supersedes any process. In organizations (or even in a society) where culture is weak, you need an abundance of heavy, precise rules and processes.
Here’s an interesting tidbit from an “initially skeptical” responder about responses that didn’t occur to me before: “I think that having to meet the bar required to hit publish on a piece helped make my words civil to the person who wrote the original article.”
When you read a thoughtful piece about micropayments that questions the approach of a company and then the co-founder of that company responds with a thoughtful counter, that’s pretty cool. This sort of thing is possible — and happens — in traditional blog comments, but the ability for Medium responses to live on their own gives both more motivation to invest in them (as a creator) and more likelihood the significant ones will be found. (For old-schoolers: Yes, like Trackbacks.)