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To Build a Strong Culture, Create Rules That Are Unique to Your Company

You can’t create something unique and compelling in the marketplace unless you first create something unique and compelling in the workplace. Truly great organizations work as distinctively as they hope to compete.

Ben Horowitz, Silicon Valley’s high-profile venture capitalis, emphasizes the power of culture, rather than technology or money, as a driver of business success. One of his most intriguing insights is that powerful cultures are built around “shocking rules” - rituals and practices that are memorable, so “bizarre” that people inside the organization “encounter almost daily”.

Tom Coughlin - then head coach of the New York Giants, winning two Super Bowls - insisted that his players arrive at meetings five minutes before the scheduled start time. If they arrived on time, they were officially considered late and subject to a fine. It was called “Coughlin Time,” and it set the rhythm for the whole organization.

Quicken Loans - now the largest originator of home mortgages in the US - is obsessed with a non-negotiable rule: "Every customer phone call or email must be returned on the same day it is received, even if it arrives minutes before an employee is about to leave."

Jeff Bezos insisted for years - even as Amazon was growing by leaps and bounds - that desks at the company “were built by buying cheap doors from Home Depot and nailing legs to them.” This shocking rule reminded everyone that "We look for every opportunity to save money so we can deliver the best products for the lowest cost."

To read the full HBR article, please click here.

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