Reading List: Happy Companies, Strategic Investors, Designer as Founder, Resolve to Innovate

I’ve long argued that every business has a culture, some conscious and others accidental. It’s the accidental ones that are almost always toxic.  Today, Fast Company reports on why it pays to create positive work environments, aggregating some of the most current research on the topic.  Bottom line: “Disengaged workers cost the U.S. economy $350 billion a year in lost productivity.” Startup founders can’t start thinking too soon about how to create a strong positive culture in their businesses.

In light of the so-Called Series A Crunch (or not), a lot of startups may look to large corporate partners for strategic investment.  What may seem like an ideal match may not, in the end, turn out to be a perfect partnership.  Investor-turned-entrepreneur-turned-VC Rob Siegel takes up the issue of strategic investment on his blog this morning in his characteristic candid style.

“Design is a force multiplier,” says Eoghan McCabe, CEO of Intercom, in a chalk talk with First Round Capital in which he makes a strong case that those passionate about design think twice, and then some, about becoming a technology company founder.

Bill Fischer sets out his “Innovation Resolutions” on Forbes.com, and there is good advice among this resolve to “dream big” and “prototype everything.”  I find most hopeful for him, though, the premise of the headline, “Innovation Without Investment or Permission!”  I have long advocated that some of the most valuable innovative thinking in any organization comes organically from the rank and file who have neither the mandate nor the financing to do much more than their job descriptions require.  The constraint of the daily grind, it turns out, can inspire ideas and designs that change the work-a-day dynamic and deliver greater productivity.

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