From time to time during conference Q&A sessions I’m asked “How did you create the culture at 37signals?” or “What do you recommend we do to set up an open, sharing company culture like yours?”

My answer: You don’t create a culture. Culture happens. It’s the by-product of consistent behavior. If you encourage people to share, and you give them the freedom to share, then sharing will be built into your culture. If you reward trust then trust will be built into your culture.


Artificial cultures are instant. They’re big bangs made of mission statements, declarations, and rules. They are obvious, ugly, and plastic. Artificial culture is paint.


Real cultures are built over time. They’re the result of action, reaction, and truth. They are nuanced, beautiful, and authentic. Real culture is patina.

Don’t think about how to create a culture, just do the right things for you, your customers, and your team and it’ll happen.