| Sep 13, 2022

Hypergrowth Begins with Culture

Culture is the point from where all business decisions are made. Without a value system that is felt within all aspects of an organization, a company's growth will not reflect internal successes.
By Ajit Prabhu |

5 minutes

Even in our infancy as a two-person company, we aspired to build a company that could sustain over time and give our employees the opportunity for meaningful contribution and growth. One employee, in particular, profoundly impacted the organization because of his ability to groom strong leaders underneath him. He was like a culture scout. He could find people not only with the right capabilities but whose values aligned with our company — and then he role-modeled our culture in the way he faced issues, celebrated successes, and learned from mistakes. He built dream teams, and I couldn’t resist stealing a couple of people from his team about every six months to join other teams. 

Every time he had just reformed a new dream team, I would come along for a steal until he finally threw in the towel and told me he’d had enough of the nonsense. I had to explain that his success was our success. As the single best leader for training people to be culture leaders in our organization, his work would never reach its full potential if we didn’t allow that leadership to trickle out. I compare it to lightbulbs. If you keep all your brightest bulbs in one room, you will have a dark house. You must ensure every room is well-lit, and to that end, you may need to remove a few lights from a single room for your home — your business — to shine.

In these early days, we learned that the bedrock for hypergrowth is a culture of aspiration, hunger, and humility. Whether we’re looking toward the future and taking actions to reflect what we want to be, rolling up our sleeves and ensuring our passion shows in our work, or sharing our missteps with each other to ensure everyone knows it’s OK to make mistakes, our three core values color every decision we make as a company and as individuals.

Company Culture Drives Action

The culture of our company unconsciously influences the decisions we make at work. The data shows a correlation between clearly articulated, lived culture and strong business performance. The best-performing organizations understand that cultivating a strong company culture is just as essential as executing a strong business strategy.

An aspirational culture pushes employees to operate from a growth mindset, both independently and collaboratively. Teams take a proactive approach to failure by making learning opportunities out of shortcomings and communicating their insights. Companies that operate in this way outperform companies that operate in a more conservative corporate culture. These subtle advantages offered by the critical decision-making processes shaped by company culture are powerful indicators of whether a business can reach beyond being sustainable and move into hypergrowth.

In the face of performance headwinds, companies with a more conservative culture might lower their targets and rationalize their ambitions down. They will make it through the challenge by letting risk aversion lead. On the other hand, companies with a more aspirational culture still fully acknowledge the weight of reality, but they have the audacity to keep believing and persevering. Aspirational cultures overcome the challenge by making it an opportunity to do something extraordinary.

A Company’s Culture is as Unique as a Thumbprint

At Quest Global, hunger, aspiration, and humility have always worked together to create a company that aims to do better as we grow. Our purpose is to be the most trusted partner for the world’s hardest engineering problems, and we cannot achieve this without capturing the hearts and minds of our employees. Beyond aspiration, our culture is based on hunger. This means leaders at every level, from executives to fresh graduates, roll up their sleeves and do the hard work — united in hunger and passion for contributing. In our culture, to be hungry means that we translate the aspiration for greatness into the tangible contributions of many. Because our core values drive our mission, our work changes the lives of our customers, employees, and leaders. This is the foundation of all our growth.

Investing the hard work into maintaining a strong company culture starts with having strong values that are fundamentally tied to your mission. Cultural work is long-term work, iterated over many years across all levels of your organization, and it grows in scope as your company grows. Recentering your company around culture after moving away from it through years and years of growth isn’t impossible, but it is essential. 


Stay Intentional About Cultural Alignment

Most companies take culture into consideration during recruitment. Despite this, companies often hire people who deliver business results, but if their delivery doesn’t align with the culture, the companies and the employees are missing out on potential growth. This is where your cultural efforts in the workplace get lost. Companies need to be bold and implement a framework that digs deeper than recruitment, a framework that prioritizes an intentional approach to ensuring our values are aligned with our work as we deliver. It is hard work, but it is the only work that paves the way for a culture that empowers companies to cascade through hypergrowth.

Humility is an essential cultural value for a company that aims to grow. Leaders can center humility as they build their workplace culture by creating space to discuss and collaborate through failure and by making humility a recruitment focus. Humility is as simple and powerful as learning from our mistakes and asking for help — culture means knowing that these things are worth celebrating.

At our annual leadership meeting, the first day is spent with 200 leaders taking the stage to share a personal failure from the year and what they learned from it so others don’t have to make the same mistake. We celebrate the bruises and laugh together, and by moving forward with humility, we remove the inhibitive nature of fear from our work. 

Anyone can create an amazing, multi-billion dollar company if they start with unlimited resources. But, your company’s culture and principles define whether you’ll succeed and grow, simply get by, or even fail as a business. As time passes, how things get done matters increasingly more to customers and employees. Prioritizing company culture is critical to success across all facets of your organization and its stakeholders, and it is the catalyst for hypergrowth.

Create Champions of Growth

For businesses at the forefront of change, culture is no longer a benefit but a mission-critical element. Culture is the secret sauce for differentiation with customers and fuels hypergrowth. If you want your culture to succeed in growing your company, you need to imagine a workplace that goes beyond the classic 9-to-5 corporate culture and do the work to make that vision your reality. 

To create something bigger, you must constantly keep your goal and purpose in mind. You must inject that purpose into everything you do and exemplify it for everyone you meet. As leaders, we are key players in setting the tone of our work. When we lead with culture, we empower the next line of leaders and changemakers to do the same and continue pioneering growth.

Ajit Prabhu
Executive Author

Co-Founder and CEO, Quest Global

Ajit Prabhu is the co-founder, chairman, and CEO of Quest Global, an end-to-end engineering services company. view profile


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