Tag Archives: culture

Updates from Chicago Booth

How to split equity without drawing blood
By Mike Moyer – We live in a world where entrepreneurs and early-stage company participants get taken advantage of so frequently that we hardly notice. Bad equity deals are the rule, not the exception. Fairness is rare.

The intent for fairness is there in the way equity is split among business partners, but the practice of fairness is not. This is a correctable problem.

When a person contributes to a start-up company and does not get paid for her contribution, she is putting her contribution at risk with the hopes of getting a future reward. And, while the timing and the amount of the future reward is unknowable, the amount of the contributions at risk is knowable. It is equal to the fair market value of the contributions.

Because it’s impossible to know when or even if the rewards will ever come, we can never know how much people must put at risk to get the rewards. Every contribution, therefore, is essentially a bet on the future of the company, and nobody knows when the betting will end. more> https://goo.gl/F3ELyY


Uber’s Problems Are Silicon Valley’s Problems

By Katy Steinmetz – The world’s most valuable venture-backed company is no doubt in crisis. And the story of Uber, in its extreme success and what may turn out to be extreme failures, is in some ways singular. But it also hits on issues in the technology industry that are far bigger than one company.

Silicon Valley has struggled for years with diversity and inclusion, as critics have wondered whether the industry can achieve its grand self-image: a bunch of brilliant minds set on making the world a better place, for whom no problem is too tough to solve, no status quo too established to upend.

Despite whistle-blowing at other companies about hostile office cultures and widespread acknowledgement that the industry needs to “do better” when it comes to hiring and retaining women and people of color, those problems have persisted.

The fact that Uber, the brightest product of the Silicon Valley ecosystem of the past several years, could become such an influential global powerhouse while seemingly neglecting its own workplace speaks to some of the reasons that broader progress, as many see it, has been slow.

The pressure for startups to grow fast — and the prospect of profits or an enriching “exit” for investors — can be blinding. Taking time to think about unsexy HR practices often feels antithetical to hard-charging disruption.

Company culture and bias can be hard things to see, much less change, especially if the people at the top believe they’re running a meritocracy. more> https://goo.gl/WwGncQ


Democracy needs politeness

By Steven Bullock – In 1808, the US president Thomas Jefferson ranked the ‘qualities of mind’ he valued. Not surprisingly, he included ‘integrity’, ‘industry’, and ‘science’. These traits were particularly important to American revolutionaries seeking a society based on independent citizens, rather than harsh rulers and inherited privilege.

But at the top of his list, Jefferson chose not these familiar Enlightenment values but ‘good humour’ – or what contemporaries usually called ‘politeness’.

18th-century Britons and Americans believed that politeness was essential for a free society. Autocrats shouted, cursed and berated. But they sought only obedience. Leading a more open society required respect for other people, sensitivity to their expectations and concerns. By the time of Jefferson’s ranking, politeness had been part of the project of challenging authoritarian rule for more than a century. more> https://goo.gl/IVIswe

Why Most Government Reform Plans Die


Working With Culture: the Way the Job Gets Done In Public Programs, Author: Anne Khademian.

By Howard Risher – “Culture Eats Strategy for Breakfast.” That quote is credited to the father of modern management, Peter Drucker. He was saying that leaders need to understand and address their organization’s culture in their planning.

Writers tell us that culture encompasses the values, beliefs, underlying assumptions, attitudes, and behaviors shared by a group of people. It sets forth the rules—unspoken and unwritten—for working together.

It’s relevant to reform because it governs behavior in work groups. It influences virtually every interaction of people in performing their jobs. It affects the time they start work, their tolerance for sexist comments, the way they deal with customers—everything.

Culture plays an important role in every successful organization. More than a few writers have argued that it would be great if government could develop a performance culture. That’s one where employees are committed to achieving results. Employees in high performing companies are energized by the culture. It’s reinforced by their reward and recognition practices. more> https://goo.gl/AiEOKL

How the end of democracy made the Greeks more polite

By Eleanor Dickey – ‘What’s the magic word?’ Any English-speaking toddler knows the answer to this question: ‘please.’

The word is now considered essential for normal interaction between civilized people, and those who fail to employ it are seen as rude.

‘Please’ is by no means the politest way of making requests in English: compare ‘Please pass the salt’ to ‘Is there any chance you could help me with this computer problem? Pretty please with sugar on it?’ Politeness has degrees, and in most cultures you need to use more of it in some circumstances than in others.

To this rule, the classical Greeks were no exception. This situation came to an abrupt end in the late fourth century BCE, when Greece was conquered by the Macedonian king, Philip II. Philip, his son Alexander the Great, and their successors enormously expanded the number of Greek speakers by making Greek the language of government and elite culture all over the Eastern Mediterranean.

The Greek culture spread by Macedonian conquests lacked the element of democracy and equality, for it was attached to a hierarchical social system: not only a king and group of Macedonian nobles at the top, but below them a highly stratified society, often one surviving from the pre-Macedonian social structure of the conquered areas. more> https://goo.gl/IrwTws

How the Languages in Game of Thrones, Defiance, and Thor Were Created

By Claire Cameron – It is three different processes depending on what you are evolving. The sound system is pretty simple.

We have a very clear idea of how a sound can change over time. We have plenty of examples within our languages to work with. So once you have an idea of how sounds change and know what you want, then you can go back and settle on a sound system that is going to evolve to what you want it to be. This also naturally produces irregularities, which are a fundamental aspect of language.

Meaning changes can be taken care of once the grammar is done. Evolving a grammar is very difficult and requires a lot of specialized study and skill. You need to know what you are looking for.

For example, a lot of future tenses in the languages that we speak—you can see exactly where they came from if you go back in history. There are certain words that will glob on to verbs; affixes that will come to indicate a future tense. And so if you know some lexical sources, then you can produce your future tense and have a natural, semantic result. more> http://goo.gl/l9MqBb


Our fear of death


The Denial of Death, Author: Ernest Becker.

By Sheldon Solomon – Contemplation of death can give rise to potentially paralyzing terror.

Humans typically manage that terror by embracing cultural worldviews that give us a sense that we are valuable individuals in a meaningful universe.

This might mean subscribing to a religion or political affiliation, affiliating oneself with the values of a particular nation or region, or identifying with another subculture, such as yoga practitioners or New York Yankee fans.

People are highly motivated to maintain faith in their chosen worldview. And when people are reminded of their mortality, they become even more fervently committed to their cherished cultural beliefs and strive to boost their self-esteem. more> http://goo.gl/byB451

Clinton, Sanders, and the Value of Borrowing Policy Ideas From Other Countries


The Right Way to Lose a War: America in an Age of Unwinnable Conflicts, Author: Dominic Tierney.
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, Author: Marie Kondo.

By Dominic Tierney – Why are Americans often skeptical of learning from policy solutions implemented elsewhere?

U.S. identity is founded on a sense of political exceptionalism. The United States is seen as a unique repository of ideals under God’s watchful providence—the city on a hill.

And America’s national success has only reinforced popular resistance to looking abroad for inspiration.

But here’s the catch: Shunning overseas policy innovation is dangerous. The United States is an incredibly successful country in many domains, and has an enormous amount to teach the world. Yet Americans also have a great deal to learn.

Given that only 5 percent of the world’s population is American, is it possible that the other 95 percent have a few smart ideas Americans could use? more> http://tinyurl.com/nao7ab4

Stop Capitalizing the Word Internet

By Adam Nathaniel Peck – “I doubt many of us think of it as a proper noun anymore (if many users ever did), but it is one,” said Emily Brewster, an associate editor at Merriam-Webster.

“Someone could find another way to connect us all to cat videos and personality quizzes, and then we’d have an Internet alternative.”

Joseph Turow told the New York Times in 2002 that changing the capitalization would signal a shift in understanding about what the internet actually is: “part of the neural universe of life.”

The usage of “Internet” was twice as frequent as “internet” between 2000 and 2014. But since 2012, “Internet” outpaces “internet” by just 54 percent to 46 percent margin. more> ttp://tinyurl.com/pwpdj87

Updates from Chicago Booth


The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, Author: Max Weber.
Underdevelopment is a State of Mind, Author: Lawrence Harrison.
Culture Matters: How Values Shape Human Progress, Editors: Lawrence E. Harrison and Samuel P. Huntington.
Notes on a New Sociology of Economic Development, Author: Jeffrey Sachs.

To understand the eurozone crisis, consider culture
By Séamus A. Power – They call it the Kissinger Question. “If I want to call Europe, who do I call?” Henry Kissinger reportedly remarked in the 1970s, when he was US Secretary of State.

At the time, there was no European Union, and there was far less economic, fiscal, and political integration than today.

The Kissinger Question is a good one. The expanding political and fiscal union in Europe, motivated by a desire not to repeat the mistakes leading to the two world wars, rests on centuries of interrelated but distinct national beliefs, values, desires, and morals—factors that lie at the foundation of economic practices.

For example, the cultural psychological differences across the EU reveal some foundational issues at the heart of the current eurozone crisis. more> http://tinyurl.com/pwtwnf5