Protecting Culture While Growing
How do we preserve the culture of a company while it goes through a period of massive growth?
In grad school, I studied the anthropological and linguistic complexion of poverty, and I had this one anthropology professor who consistently argued that as economies "developed,” culture was inevitably lost. The price of economic progress, he said, was the loss of culture. Since then I’ve noticed this phenomenon manifest itself in the communities in which Uncharted works, through the stories our entrepreneurs tell, in the contemporary sociologies of our neighborhoods and our nation. But I’ve always wondered if such an inverse relationship is destined. Is it an immutable law of progress that growth invariably hollows out culture?
I’m curious how Uncharted, an organization that is growing, can fight these physics to preserve its heartbeat. I want Uncharted’s humanity—its cultural vitality, its personal cohesion, its principled values—only to be amplified with any top-line growth we experience.
It’s almost easier to grow the top-line than it is to plant these cultural seeds and be committed to cultivating them with intention and patience. It takes saying no sometimes to the exciting thing outside and prioritizing the important thing inside. It takes slowly chronicling a collective mythology. It takes stitching together cultural practices into a lived team experience that invites flourishing. It takes surrendering the productive for the frivolous once in a while.