Last week while I was in Palo Alto, I had an opportunity to attend Startup2Startup, a monthly networking event for startup businesses to make connections and get advice and insight organized by Dave McClure.(Check out these amazing photos taken by Brian Solis) No, I'm not starting a Silicon Valley tech business, but I thought it might be an interesting opportunity to learn.
The featured speaker was Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos. Hsieh transformed a small startup into a $1 billion business. In the slides above, he talks about he built a culture in his organization that encourages transparency, happiness, and passion for customer service. He also discussed their word of mouth strategy. (See Mark Hendrickson's post for a summary)
A couple of nuggets:
- They use Twitter for customer service and encourage employees to tweet. Tony has a get started guide for employees to get up and running. Notice how their avatars include the zappos identity? Because the organization's culture really embodies the brand, there are no heavy handed specific guidelines on what employees can tweet. He recommends transparency and "to be real and nothing to fear" and "use your best judgement."
- Another annecdote that I found fascinating was the story of Zappos Insights, where they share how they run their business. While it isn't free, it is an interesting example of openness of sharing "trade secrets." Tony mentioned during his presentation, "People ask him aren't you worried that competitors can get access to your information and use it against you? His take is that they now have thousands of sets of eyes watching their business."
This is an excellent example of designing the culture from the ground up that embodies the hallmarks of social media.
What I wonder is what is needed to transform an existing culture that is not necessarily agile or open?