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Embracing failure builds culture

I recently opened the Tribe Conference talking about Spotify’s people strategy and culture. During this period of hyper growth at Spotify, what could be more important than the actions that help us to build culture?

For millions of years, human beings have been part of one tribe or another, with a shared interest, a shared way to communicate and leadership. Sometimes one person leads, sometimes more. The tribe members bond over their shared interest but also need change and challenges. Explosive growth of our tribe, creates a need for the tightest bond – to ensure we’re all focused and inspired by the end goal, even if that includes change. Our culture must be strong.

And it’s so important to make sure that culture is nurtured – to keep the environment that let’s it thrive – like a living organism. For example, at Spotify, we empower people, generating autonomy. We ensure that ideas, not the highest pay grade, win. We treat the company culture like a family culture. We allow people to drive their own development.

Culture isn’t built with workshops, training or perks – it’s built and set with our people’s actions. In order to grow a sound culture, find a way to align on shared goals, and establish a leadership that we can all buy into, we need to foster an environment that allows uniqueness and innovation. Rigid policies, procedures and measures do little to encourage individuals to embrace this. A workplace where everyone can use their unique strengths to do their best work (and love doing it), is an inspirational setting to grow and develop a culture within.

At Spotify we enable a environment where knowledge resides and action transpires. A lot of knowledge lies in networks that are invisible to an outsider, but mapping them leads to insight about the true behaviours and habits that make us fast and responsive to change.

So, invest in your culture. Make it safe to fail. Make it ok to talk about things that are hard. Allow people to be open and vulnerable. That’s the secret sauce that enables success, builds strong teams and attracts the talent that grow the right culture.

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