From: Patty McCord (edited)
I asked the CEO what the most important value for his company was. "Efficiency," he replied.
“OK,” I said. “Imagine that I work here, and it’s 2:58 PM. I’m playing an intense game of pool, and I’m winning. I estimate that I can finish the game in five minutes. We have a meeting at 3:00. Should I stay and win the game or cut it short for the meeting?”
“You should finish the game,” he insisted. I wasn’t surprised; like many tech start-ups, this was a casual place, where employees wore hoodies and brought pets to work, and that kind of casualness often extends to punctuality.
“Wait a second,” I said. “You told me that efficiency is your most important cultural value. It’s not efficient to keep coworkers waiting because of a pool game. Isn’t there a mismatch between the values you’re talking up and the behaviors you’re encouraging?”
It’s a particular problem at start-ups, where there’s a premium on casualness that can run counter to the high-performance ethos leaders want to create.
I often sit in on company meetings to get a sense of how people operate. I frequently see CEOs who are clearly winging it. They’re working from slides that were obviously put together an hour before.