Thursday, March 3, 2011

What is company culture?

As discussed in one of my earlier blog posts, I spent a portion of my summer at Stanford University at a program called EPGY- studying Topics in business. As part of our field experience business field trips, my professor, Mr. Edwin Oh (a man I would consider myself extremely privileged to have worked with so closely this summer), took us to a variety of companies in Silicon Valley, and perhaps one of the most powerful things that stood out when I considered a company was the company culture. Company culture can be determined by many things- among which are the values and the behavior of the individuals which compose the company. The company energy has the potential to serve as a powerful asset- it can bring the company together and create a friendlier environment, or can serve as an disadvantage when not established properly. I would even argue that when establishing a company, or creating a start-up environment, company culture can really determine how successful (or unsuccessful) the company becomes. Even on a personal level, having an unresourceful work environment can be highly destructive, so magnifying that to a company can be even more terrible. Luckily- I had the opportunity to observe some empowering environments. For example, when visiting “Tapulous” headquarters, I noticed a sense of teamwork, and when there were employees playing with Nerf guns during their free time, I realized how much time Tapulous must have taken to establish their unique company culture. With the bright colored plastered over walls and games all over (refer back to Summer Visit to a Silicon Valley Dream Factory), a na├»ve visitor may mistake this atmosphere with an ineffective work environment, but the designers have the workspace down to a science. They realize that THEIR employees may be most efficient and happy in doing their work if they have a comfortable and welcoming environment. Contrary to this, we visited a very different start-up company in which the walls were white, cubicles were assigned to employees and there was a more formal attire. This company was easily as effective. In their own ways, they both established a good company culture, because they both factored in important things- such as employee efficiency and the product/brand they’re executing. I bet if you put the "cubicle employees" in Tapulous or Tapulous employees in the cubicles, the effect would be extremely different.

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