Company culture gets crafted over time by thousands of small decisions, and a few large ones.
Yes, the big decisions about the vineyard or varietal takes spectacular time. But I was struck by how many small decisions like the shape of wood barrel, the wood of the barrel, and the smoke of the barrel can leave a residue on the culture of the wine just as the many small decisions in your business can leave a residue on the culture of your business.
I was reminded of this recently by visits to a coffee company, Equator Coffee, and to a small wine business of a high school friend of mine, Fourth Estate Wines. In both cases, large decisions about the best vineyard or varietal or farmland take much time, but also thousands of smaller decisions take time continually to create a quality product. Which vineyards soils (and plots within the vineyards), growing methods and practices, harvest timing, picking before putting into barrels, barrel woods (vendor, forest, roast, times of the barrel), release time, and thousands more — all decisions for the winemaker that will have an impact on the final wine. A similar set of decisions exist with coffee in the coffee farms, growing methods, roasts, packaging, transport and freshness, and thousands more.
Company Culture Crafted by Conscious Decisions, Large and Small
When making a product, we all understand that those physical decisions must be made. When crafting a company, I think it is more difficult to be conscious of how every decision crafts a company culture. Sometimes we do things because that is what our previous employers did. Sometimes we do things because our advisers say that is the way it is always done. Sometimes we do things because it is easier for external parties to make us do things a certain way. We can forget how we have the power to craft something more unique and specific to our circumstance if we can step back, focus on our goals, and craft something that fits our goals better than the conventional wisdom about how to do something.
For all companies, the business funding source of capital greatly influences the company culture.
I have crafted my investment fund, Greybull Stewardship, to be able to support companies who build unique company cultures. A business funding strategy supporting unique company cultures may not be valued by traditional Silicon Valley venture capital or Wall Street private equity firms, but I have found understanding among owners trying to make those thousands of small decisions in the loneliness of building it all alone.