The Nature vs. Nurture in Developing a Corporate Culture

I have seen in my own life the power of nature vs. nurture.  I was adopted at birth and recently connected with six birth siblings.  It is interesting to observe both the power of nature and nurture.  We were raised in different homes and environments that helped shape who we became as adults.  At the same time, you notice similarities with each sibling that comes from the genetics that we all share.

I think corporate culture is similar.  There is both the nature of the culture that you want to develop while also nurturing its application in your company.

At Pro-ficiency, we determined the nature of the culture and values that we wanted to establish for our company.  The below chart is an expression of our cultural aspirations.

Our team is a mix of artists, scientists and business experts.  We intentionally constructed the DNA of our values to be as unique as the team that we have assembled.  We wanted to avoid traditional corporate jargon.  We settled on four core elements of our values:

  • Pioneer
  • Solidarity
  • Spirit of Service
  • Relentless

Surrounding those values is a 360 circle of trust among team members.

We are pioneers.  This reflects both the spirit of our founder Dave Hadden and the uniqueness of our solution.  As we grow our business, we will look for expansion opportunities by seeing both the problem that we are solving and our solution in a unique way.  There are several Albert Einstein quotes that we love at Pro-ficiency that captures our spirit as Pioneers:

  • “A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.”
  • “No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.”
  • And his best quote… “learning is an experience, everything else is just information.”

Secondly, we value Solidarity.  Our success comes as a team, not as an individual.  We value diverse thought while focusing on the same outcome for our customers.  We move and operate as a team guided by True North for our business and our “OKR Management System” as our organizing framework.  We share a common goal with our customers of improving the operation of clinical trials.

Third, we operate in a Spirit of Service.  We want to better enable our customers to accelerate drug discovery.  This is personal for each of us as we have family members that have been impacted by miracle therapeutics developed by the industry that we serve.  There is no higher calling than helping improve human health and quality of life.

Our Spirit of Service also extends to the communities that we live in.  We encourage our team members to share their unique talents and resources in their local area.  Last week we had our first community service event Filling the Bus with school supplies for students in the Durham County school district near our office.

Finally, we are relentless.  We are driven by being the best at what we do.  We aspire to delight our customers in the design, delivery and support of our simulations that transform protocol delivery.  We value having high-performing, execution-driven team members.

With those four attributes of the “Nature” of our culture, how do we “Nurture” them?  

First of all, it starts with the individuals that we bring onto the team.  We interview carefully for these values.  We also make these values inherent to the performance review process for each team member.

Secondly, we review our core values in each monthly All Hands Meeting.  We want these values to be more than a slogan hung on a wall.  

Third, we embed these values into how we operate.  As we built out our company growth playbook, we focused on new pioneering innovations rather than “me too” technologies.  Our “OKR Management System” is also an example of how we restlessly measure our execution against the key performance indicators for our business.

Finally, we live out every day in the Spirit of Service to our industry and our community by providing exceptional products and services.

Ultimately, the most valuable asset in our company is our people.  The culture is simply an expression of the values that guide our journey to True North.

Jim Collins is one of my favorite teachers of what makes great companies tick.  He has authored amazing books like Good to Great, Built to Last and How the Mighty Fall based upon his 25 years of research.  Here is a quote from Jim on developing a great culture.

Disciplined people who engage in disciplined thought and who take disciplined action—operating with freedom within a framework of responsibilities—this is the cornerstone of a culture that creates greatness. In a culture of discipline, people do not have jobs; they have responsibilities. When you blend a culture of discipline with an ethic of entrepreneurship, you get a magical alchemy resulting in superior performance.

We believe that we have settled on the perfect cultural framework for our team.  Experience the Pro-ficiency culture by having us partner in the delivery of your next clinical trial.

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