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How to Completely, Totally, Absolutely Screw Up Your Company’s Corporate Culture

Looking AHEAD 2016 – How do you create a corporate culture that’s guaranteed to make everyone miserable? Dan Lyons is a veteran business journalist (Forbes, Newsweek) and a writer on HBO’s comedy series, Silicon Valley. He spent two years working at a software startup and came away with a tale of corporate culture run amok, which he recounts in his hilarious and insightful best-selling memoir, Disrupted: My Misadventure in the Start-Up Bubble, which management guru Tom Peters (“In Search of Excellence”) hailed as “a fine, important work.” The company where Lyons worked was run by MIT graduates and placed a huge emphasis on culture, with a “Culture Code,” created by one of its co-founders, and a “culture tsar,” a VP whose role was to disseminate the corporate culture throughout the organization. The company had become almost a parody of a hip, cool, new-economy organization: dogs in the office, bean bag chairs in conference rooms, free beer, foosball tables, a video game arcade, huge parties, a nap room, standing desks and walking meetings. Despite all this work around culture, the company had lots of problems, including high workforce turnover and sagging morale.

Organizations are recognizing the importance of culture and its impact on every aspect of a company’s success. But many are going about it all wrong, by focusing too much on the superficial trappings of “culture” while failing to do the deeper, more difficult work of building a healthy environment and sustainable business. In this lively talk Lyons blends his personal experience with references to pop culture and academic research about corporate culture and organizational behavior.