Mark Zagorski, 32, executive VP of WorldNow, a New York-based startup that provides Internet solutions to more than 130 local television broadcasters.
What's Your Problem?
"Building company culture is just as important as building the business model. But how do we make sure that everyone embraces the culture when we're constantly updating our org chart?"
Tell Me About It.
"Since the company was founded in early 1999, we've grown to more than 130 employees. Last spring, we hit an inflection point. We needed to juice up our culture with a more-formalized approach, without losing our edge."
What's Your Solution?
"We started a monthly ritual to recognize individuals for the great work that they're doing. Every month, someone is presented with The Team Drill, a clunky old tool that my colleague and I picked up in San Francisco last May. The monthly winner is expected to perform a few simple tasks: Personalize the drill in some way, and devise a new rule for how to care for it. One staffer added a Bart Simpson trigger. Another made the drill wireless by adding an antenna. At the end of the monthly staff meeting, the current winner passes the drill to the next star.
"Okay, so it's just a goofy $2 purchase. But the dented old drill captures our unofficial mantra of 'drilling down to solve problems.' You can implement culture initiatives through new-hire training sessions, but when you create a company icon — no matter how silly — you're carrying on the conversation from one generation of the company to the next."
Contact Mark Zagorski by email (firstname.lastname@example.org).
A version of this article appeared in the February 2001 issue of Fast Company magazine.