Entrepreneurial Institute

The search for Organization-Cultural Fit: An Ongoing Endeavor

Organization-Cultural Fit reflects the values of the founders and employees


Unintentional consequences are just that, unintentional. We make decisions based on the information we have and/or how we learned to gather it. Building awareness for responsible or principled entrepreneurship does not imply people are deliberately being unethical (ok, to avoid debate, yes, some people are unethical and do things intentionally that are morally wrong). The Ethical Entrepreneurship Initiative is intended to help people who want to do the right things be better at it, including finding the right Organization-Cultural Fit.


"Organizational culture represents the collective values, beliefs and principles of the organization’s members.”

Over the past decade, we’ve developed a heightened collective awareness of the many security and privacy breaches that occur in what feels an almost daily barrage of news. And while it may not seem like it, security and privacy implementation has gotten significantly better. The embedding of technology into all facets of society has heightened our awareness and the risks are now greater than ever. Computer engineers, programmers, designers, and society at-large have increased their focus on privacy and security over the past 10 years. We can do the same with ethics. People were not deliberately making products insecure or lacked privacy, they just had not yet established an appreciation for the complexity and risk assessments of these issues. Once we advanced our understanding, we deliberately heightened our expectations which is leading to better products and increasingly to regulatory guidance.


Principled decision-making based on founder values


The Lean Startup Methodology teaches entrepreneurs to identify the core value propositions their new venture offers to specific customer segments. This practice creates the focus driving many important decisions from product development, to the go-to-market strategy, distribution, support and basic operations. Creating an organizational culture where all its members consistently make decisions requires a similar exercise. Founders should take the time to identify, write down, and communicate the values they want to see embedded into the culture. This is how a constructive culture is intentionally created. Otherwise, the venture will end up with a culture that may or more likely not conform to the founder’s core principles.


Organizational culture represents the collective values, beliefs and principles of organizational members and is a product of factors such as history, product, market, technology, strategy, type of employees, management style”. Every organization has a culture. The only question is, will the founders intentionally shape it or will it evolve on its own. The former increases the likelihood it will be a positive environment reflective of the values and desires of the people that work in it. The latter leaves it up to chance.


Cultivating Organization-Cultural Fit is an ongoing activity.

We teach entrepreneurs that customer discovery and prototyping are ongoing activities used to inform future decisions, as opposed to stages or phases to be passed through. In other words, the process of collecting customer information and construct prototypes to test specific aspects of a design are tools to deploy appropriately when and as needed to learn new things. Cultivating an organizational culture is also an ongoing activity. As the organization grows, adds people, changes direction, it too requires attention to ensure it evolves as intended.


When I first joined Microsoft, I experienced an early attempt to shape the culture. The executive running a meeting asked the newly assembled management team to look around the room at our colleagues. He then said “…the bureaucracy we loathe in a few years will be that which we will have created.”. He was intentionally trying to build awareness for how we created the new division. Searching for organizational-culture fit is not a one time event. Like customer discovery and prototyping, it's an ongoing series of activities. I frequently share this anecdote with new entrepreneurs to encourage them to consider what kind of culture they want for their new ventures - to build awareness that to have a culture they want requires explicit intention and effort.


Read the previous posts in the Ethical Entrepreneurship series.