From Apple Employee to Startup CEO, a Founder Learns to Make His Own Culture

From Apple Employee to Startup CEO, a Founder Learns to Make His Own Culture

Writing at Recode, Inkling founder and CEO Matt MacInnis discusses how he discovered his own values as a leader when he left Apple after eight years to start his own company. In the beginning, he explains, he attempted to emulate the tech giant’s famous culture of secrecy, because he had seen it work so well for Apple, but soon began “to recognize that some of the default settings I had adopted were at odds with my own values”:

I did at Inkling what I had been trained to do at Apple: I strictly controlled information flow in and around our tiny organization. I had an aversion to speaking with media. I insisted that new employees sign strict NDAs. And I behaved as though our little-known brand and products were worthy of instant, outsized coverage. It was a tad nutty. …

My own move from middle management at Apple to executive leadership in a startup provided time for reflection and recognition of what is most authentic in me. While retaining some of the most valuable characteristics of Apple — a commitment to craftsmanship, strong top-down leadership and a devotion to hiring A-level players — I also forged an independent course. I found my own voice in radical openness and transparency, a hallmark of the Inkling culture.

We all eventually recognize that we don’t get to choose our core values. Rather, they choose us.

MacInnis’s experience both at Apple and as a founder speak to some of the core lessons of our latest research at CEB (now Gartner) into how organizations can effectively and design and manage culture.

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How Facebook Balances Transparency and Secrecy

How Facebook Balances Transparency and Secrecy

Every Friday afternoon, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg gathers employees at the company’s Menlo Park, California, headquarters for an all-hands talk and Q&A that is recorded and broadcast to thousands of other Facebookers in remote offices across the US and around world. The topics of these chats are wide-ranging and surprisingly open, Recode’s Kurt Wagner writes, covering everything from unreleased products, to strategic initiatives, to Zuckerberg’s thoughts about Facebook’s competitors and even its board members—the kind of stuff tech reporters (or competitor CEOs) would kill for.

Yet despite all the juicy details contained in these talks, they very rarely leak outside the company. How, Wagner wonders, does Zuckerberg manage to be so candid with his employees without compromising Facebook’s information security? The answer, it seems, has a lot to do with how much employees appreciate having a direct connection with their CEO, which engenders a deep respect for the need to keep these communications internal:

“That level of transparency is alarming when you see it at first,” said one former employee. “But there’s something [special] about knowing you’re getting an unfettered response.”

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What Happens If ‘Radical Transparency’ Backfires?

What Happens If ‘Radical Transparency’ Backfires?

In the New York Times, Alexandra Stevenson and Matthew Goldstein report on allegations by an employee against Bridgewater, the world’s largest hedge fund, which, if true, show how the firm’s culture of “radical transparency” might have, in at least one instance, had a chilling effect instead:

The employee’s complaint with the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities, which has not been previously reported, describes an atmosphere of constant surveillance by video and recordings of all meetings — and the presence of patrolling security guards — that silence employees who do not fit the Bridgewater mold. … In his complaint, Christopher Tarui, a 34-year-old adviser to large institutional investors in Bridgewater, contends that his male supervisor sexually harassed him for about a year by propositioning him for sex and talking about sex during work trips.

After he complained last fall, Mr. Tarui said, several Bridgewater top managers confronted him and sought to pressure him to rescind his claims. One manager, he said, accused him of lying and said that he was “blowing this whole thing out of proportion.” These and other allegations in the complaint could not be independently verified.

Mr. Tarui said he remained silent for many months about the harassment out of fear the incident would not remain private and would impede his chances for promotion at the firm, which is based in Westport, Conn. “The company’s culture ensures that I had no one I could trust to keep my experience confidential,” he said in the complaint, which was filed in January. …

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