The Virtuous Cycle of Culture And Growth

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Phil Daniels Phil Daniels

TechPoint has awarded Springbuk with two Mira Awards, one for "Scale-Up of the Year" and another for "Company Culture of the Year."

Throughout the awards gala, I had several conversations with other members of our community about our growth, as well as conversations about our culture, but I didn’t get to dive into how they relate to one another. At Springbuk, our team believes that there is an inextricable link that lies, at the heart of startup success, between growth and culture.

It’s our belief that you can’t have one without the other—at least, not sustainably. We believe that there is a virtuous cycle of culture and growth. When you feed your culture, it should feed your growth, which should serve to feed your culture.

Unfortunately, it’s not easy. Try as we may, we haven’t perfected it, and I would venture to guess that no organization has completely figured it out. Nevertheless, by leading with culture and employee experience from an early stage of the business, we were able to attract the talent we needed to grow quickly, while also giving back to the culture in the form of new, energetic teammates who have bought into a vision.

Here is what that cycle looks like, from our perspective.

1. Leading With a Mission-Driven Culture Inspires Growth
At Springbuk, we’re on a mission to "prevent disease with data."

It’s a lofty ambition, but we don’t shy away from it. It’s the foundation of our culture specifically because it’s ambitious. Early on, we established our mission as our North Star. We knew that, if we kept going in that direction, we would get where we needed to go.

Because of that lofty mission, we were able to attract a caliber of employee that would likely never have given us a second look when we were in our cramped, unpainted offices. A-Players who were talented enough to take any job they wanted in Indianapolis chose Springbuk because of our mission, which led us to early growth. More importantly, however, it led to us attracting the type of people who wanted to contribute to our culture.

2. Growth Inspires a Giving, Selfless Culture
It’s said that success has 100 parents, and it’s true. Every success that your organization has is the result of hard work from countless members of your team. This needs to be called out and acknowledged every time. By demonstrating a generous culture that shares credit for all accomplishments, you incentivize giving, selfless behavior.

The axiom goes: “There is no limit to the amount of good you can do if you don't care who gets the credit.” At Springbuk, we try our best to weave this sentiment into everything we do.

As your team grows, it’s the leadership team’s responsibility to give proper credit for the hard work that every individual team member does. When your team isn’t concerned about whether they’ll get recognition for their work, it’s easier for them to do things that benefit the team over themselves. If you breed a culture of taking credit rather than giving credit, then every member of your team has an incentive to “get theirs.”

Our growth has made it easier for our team to embrace the idea of a giving credit and taking blame, rather than the inverse. This has fostered an uplifting environment that’s a pleasure to be a part of on a daily basis.

3. A Selfless, Mission-Driven Culture Provides Protection From Slow Downs
Personally, I hope we never experience a single slow down in our growth, but I’m pragmatic enough to know that it's possible.

For many startups, this is the kiss of death, because they brand themselves as a “high-growth” startup. People join because they’re high-growth, so when that growth slows down, the first thing people do is panic, and the second thing they do is look for the exit.

If your organization is dedicated to growth for the sake of growth, you have nothing to fall back on when growth doesn’t occur. This instills fear, panic, and dread in the minds of your team. If we’re not showing positive growth every month, every quarter, and every year, our very purpose has been undermined.

That’s why, from day one, we didn’t set our eyes on fast growth alone. We also set our eyes on preventing disease with data. That was our direction. Our speed, while exciting, was never the singular “why” of our organization, and I believe that has paid dividends.

Building a business at scale has its own challenges. From my experience, an early (and consistent) investment in culture is an asset for any growing enterprise.

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