Avoiding the Judging Culture


Being a Facebook fan, so I was intrigued by Fastcompany's recent article about it, and Mark Zuckerberg. FastCompany recently named Facebook, the #1 most innovative company.

It takes great (or at least highly above average) leadership and internal culture to get a company to this kind of rarefied air and staggering growth. So what is it about Facebook and its leaders who create the culture?

Zuckerberg said this, "A lot of companies are set up so that people judge each other on
failure. But I'm not going to get fired if I have a bad year. Or a bad
five years." He went on to say, ""So many businesses just get so worried about looking like they might
make a mistake that they get afraid to take any risks."

Clearly, here's one of their secrets – don't create a judging culture. Create, instead a culture that builds on people's successes, rather than always remembering their failures. It's a culture that asks for passion and hacking, where it's always best to make things better, instead of the narrow focus on failure.

Why is this important for leaders to understand?

Two reasons:

A judging culture leads to fear of risk taking. People who are routinely reminded of failures or are constantly having to analyze why they "failed" just lose their motivation to keep challenging the status quo. Why should they put themselves in line for a reprimand or (see below) other abuse when it's just easier to keep things the same?

Second, a judging culture leads to cynicism. It's easy for leaders to play Monday morning quarterback and just be cynical. It can get them a laugh in meetings, but it destroys the culture's ability to cause positive change. The attitude takes away any hope of the positive learning that can come out of failure.

It's better for leaders to embrace what Ken Blanchard said many years ago, "find people doing things right." That mindset alone can radically shift your company, church or organization away from a judging culture to an affirming, people-oriented, and growth-minded culture.


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