An interview with Patrick Collison

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  • When it comes to culture, I think the main mistakes that companies make are being too precious about it, being too apologetic about it, and not treating it as dynamic and subject to revision.
  • You do not want to preserve culture; you want to collectively steer the right evolution of the culture.
  • The vast majority of human organizations that we have experience with, be it the school, the family, the university, the local community, the church, whatever, these are not organizations that scale really rapidly. And so the cues and the lessons and the habits you might learn from them are not necessarily going to be sufficient for the kind of human organization you’re building, which is perhaps doubling—or even more—in size, year over year.
  • Pieces of remote culture:
    • Interview at HQ
    • Good videoconferencing setup
    • Meeting times friendly to everyone across timezones
    • Prioritize internal communications (maybe even hire someone to manage it)
  • So I spend a lot of my time talking to people and trying to read things about the greats of the earlier days of the Valley—the Intels and, though of course not in the Valley, Microsofts, the early days of Google, the years when Steve Jobs returned to Apple. Because we have full context of what came afterward and what the outcomes actually were.
  • For the contemporaries, here and now, the jury’s still out. My personal opinion is that some of these companies—by no means all, but some of them—are in the process of making either major cultural or organizational errors that are going to substantially impede them from becoming that which is, or was, their potential. So be careful and deliberate in choosing your role models.