Startups: Are you building innovative Work Culture too?

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No, It’s not any forecast or the technology trend that I’ll be sharing with you all going forward. It is a very small experience which I felt should make sense to some of you.

Like many other Google admirers, I admire Google too. Their technology expertise and the work culture among many other things the most which apparently I’ve not seen but heard of from many people around and through some email forwards.

Point is not to debate over the culture at Google but the fact that young & first generation entrepreneurs like me are generally fascinated by the glitter of the king’s palace to an extent that we put every effort to construct our small hut to look like the King’s palace does.

Question: What is so wrong about treating your hut as a palace?
First Reaction: Of course nothing wrong, our hut is after all OUR palace, however small.
Observation: It is still important to learn that Hut and Palace are two different entities.

Recently I had an experience which demands more insights, therefore, thought of sharing with the fellow entrepreneur friends.

Most of us have experienced or at least heard the stories on Hierarchical Organizational Structure (HOS) prevalent in big corporate glass structures. Talk about Corporates in contrast to startups, it is natural for us to echo negatively for the “Hierarchy” word itself. There comes a want in us to be able to build an innovative organization away from all hierarchies and with several flexibilities like it exists in Google/ FB kinda companies. Flexible working hours, working from home, freedom from reporting to someone every now an then, casual dressing during work hours etc. etc.

While you try all these innovative ways, there is a high possibility that they will be highly abused by your so-called startup family.

Like you always wanted to get that leave without going through a chain of approvals in your previous job because you thought you are a true soul and do not abuse such facilities, you end up making such a policy in your own startup with a great heart.

Like you always wanted the flexi work hours and an option to work from home, you end up extending such options to your fellow next-genere-entrepreneur-employees with all the open heart.

In my observation with couple of other startups (including mine) is that we actually end up experimenting many (read every) nasty thought in the name of INNOVATION in our startups.

Result: Suddenly everyone wants to start contributing from home, slowly & gradually everyone starts calling you 10 am in the morning citing their inability to come to the office for the day (they know we do not have many approvals policy in place) and bringing even eight hours of standard work output becomes a challenge.

Thank God … with us they were only the Interns. I learnt a lesson that “You can’t put your hut on fire, looking at the king’s palace“. Trying to copy the culture at Google will not work unless we understand the kind of people work with us and similar other dynamics related to them.

I realize hiring Interns came out to be a boon, as it gave us a chance to experiment many of our nasty (innovative) thoughts with them and alleviated us to judge the definition of Innovation carefully.

Does this mean hiring Interns is a good way to PoC your thoughts on how to build the kind of work culture we want to build at our companies?

Though it may not solve the problem in it’s complete entirety but you’ll get the hang of several things like how much to be liberal with the employees, how to communicate about your strictness in the work culture etc.

Learn that employees observe and learn faster from each other. It can be rewarding to learn the art of nurturing innovative culture with Interns first and then with the employees. Thoughts?

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