A friend of mine recently shared a post about what it’s like to work for one of the Super-Innovator companies: Google, Apple, etc. It’s a great read (you should check it out), but one paragraph in particular jumped out at me “At Netflix…there is no expense policy. The only policy is, ‘Act in the best interest of Netflix.’…They tell employees to assume their best judgment, and they can be more productive if they’re not held back.”
Think about that for a minute. What would it be like to work for an organization that truly prioritizes innovation over cost controls? It means the company trusts and values their employees enough to empower them to act on their unique insights. Kinda makes me want to cry. Maybe you’re lucky enough to work for such an organization. In reality most companies, for one reason or another, can’t follow this model fully. My current company for example, is a lean, boot-strap startup. I hope we get to the point where innovation is our most advantageous use of funds. I expect it to be a while. If you’re not one of the lucky few who ends up working in a super-innovator culture, there are still guidelines you can use, to evaluate if the culture is a fit for you. Here’s what I watch out for:
Is it a CFO-dominated organization?
There are pluses to working in a CFO-driven organization. EBITDA is the metric uber alles, and these companies are often profitable, which translates into year-end bonuses, stock sharing and other perks. However, when profits fall, these companies downsize ruthlessly, and they tend to cut longer-tenured (expensive) employees first, to foist senior responsibilities upon junior people who are less qualified (inexpensive). That’s not always terrible: change can be good for organizations. But human capital will never be a priority in the CFO-driven organization. They routinely throw out superstars and keep toxic employees, simply because a spreadsheet doesn’t differentiate between the two, and can’t capture the fact that toxic employees are terribly costly. If you value innovation and team culture, and you find yourself working in a place where the bottom line is King, face the fact that it probably won’t change. If you’re interviewing with a company and you suspect it may fall into this category, ask everyone you speak with to tell you who gets the final say in planning and decision-making. You’ll sniff out Boss CFO within three conversations. Run.
Is everyone in management white and male?
Have you noticed that the companies in which management is dominated by white men are often the loudest in espousing egalitarianism and the quickest to proclaim themselves meritocracies? It’s possible, I suppose, that everyone who happens to be qualified to lead these organizations is a tall, nice-looking white guy (usually with all his hair) who played sports or went to a good school. Maybe. It’s more likely that you’re dealing with a leadership vacuum, and the denial and defensiveness that grows within organizations where politics and personal networks drive Go to the full article.