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There’s a plague in American businesses, and it’s called “Mature Culture.” It creates an environment that will scare away your most talented employees, even if you offer monster salaries, fat pensions, and extravagant perks. I’m going to define this culture and then show you what to do about it.
The 3 signs of Mature Culture
Most businesses practice Mature Culture. The purpose of Mature Culture is to sustain the present at the expense of the future. To accomplish that, the business practices three self-destructive patterns:
- Gollumization. Like Gollum from Lord of the Rings, a Mature Culture obsessively protects its few hit products. For employees, that paralysis undermines any sense of urgency, purpose, or agency in the company’s future.
- Insignificance. Because nothing ever changes, Mature Culture teaches people to feel useless. People know they matter only insofar as they complete the repetitive work that keeps the business afloat.
- Risk aversion. Combined, Gollumization and insignificance teach people to avoid taking chances. No one wants to be blamed for losing the company’s “precious.”
At Traeger Grills, and previously Skullcandy, I mentored employees who arrived from Mature Cultures. They wanted to learn again. They wanted to feel alive at the office. And to provide that, I developed an alternative culture.
The foundations of Deep End Culture
Deep End Culture metaphorically tosses people into the deep end of the pool. It requires everyone to do important, uncomfortable, risky work, regardless of experience. That work is not a homework assignment; it’s not studying at Top Gun; it’s the real dogfight. Deep End Culture produces faster and more agile companies than Mature Culture.
Deep End Culture also acknowledges that people don’t necessarily find “the meaning of life” at work. As mythology professor Joseph Campbell said, “People say that what we’re all seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think that’s what we’re really seeking. I think that what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive.”
A $10,000 desk budget is worthless if you spend a third of your waking life at…
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