Customer Centric Culture as a “Product” consumed by employees


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The term culture is a loaded term, often associated with misalignments between what an organization professes to be and how it actually operates. So many companies do it so poorly that cynicism can be very strong when it comes to attempts to understand or change things.

Dharmesh Shah, cofounder of Hubspot found this out the hard way when he was asked to solve for “culture” at Hubspot early on in the businesses development.

Brian Halligan, Dharmesh’s cofounder just attended a CEO networking group and said “I hear this culture thing is really important.” Culture had never been mentioned ever prior to this conversation… Culture had come up as being something that maybe they should pay some attention to as it might have an impact on how they scale and continue to be successful during rapid growth.

Brian said “Dharmesh can you go do that culture thing.” Dharmesh responded “Wow from what little I know about culture it sounds like it sort of involves people, I like people but I don’t really like being around a lot of people…seems like I would be the wrong person but anyone I am a team player so let me see what I can find out.”

Dharmesh began by gathering some inputs from employees to try and determine how they would describe the existing culture.

The responses shocked Dharmesh, there was a visceral negative reaction to the idea of organizational culture. Much of this came from the disconnection many employees had experienced when working at other organizations where what they said and what they did was incongruent.

One of them said what are you doing Dharmesh? What’s next are you going to put up posters on the wall about excellence? Hubspot is not the company I thought I joined!

Dharmesh pushed again regardless of the negative reaction as he knew it was important to find out more.

He decided to use the NPS framework to ask employees how likely are you to recommend working at Hubspot? and why?

What did Dharmesh find? That employees like working at Hubspot because of the other employees… not very actionable. But it led to Dharmesh defining what are the attributes of those people that work at Hubspot and this became the basis for describing the original culture in the Culture Code Deck

Culture as Product

“Every company builds two products, one is the product they build for the customers and the other is the product they build for their team” – Dharmesh Shah

The number one mistake founders make, according to Dharmesh, is they believe their job is to preserve the culture. That is not the job because the needs of customers change and the needs of employees change and so culture always needs to be iterated and developed, it never stops.

This is one of the reasons we built the MRI Benchmark as it is designed to help you understand how customer centric you are today and to maintain and improve your level of customer centricity over time.

The forces dragging your organization away from customers as your business grows are strong. By having some measure of customer centricity you will always have a strong north star.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Chris Brown
Chris Brown is the Marketing Manager for Digital Current, a digital marketing agency offering comprehensive integrated online marketing solutions.


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