Subscribe to the ForsythGroup feed ForsythGroup on Facebook ForsythGroup on twitter

Archive for April, 2015

Cultural DNA: The Hidden Key to Start-up Success

Posted on: No Comments


 “For us, our #1 priority is company culture. Our belief is that if we get the culture right, most of the other stuff — like delivering great customer service, or building a long-term enduring brand and business — will happen naturally on its own.” Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos.

No matter how elegant or well thought out a company’s strategy is, it will only succeed if it’s aligned to the culture of the company. As Peter Drucker wrote, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast”. One of the most important factors for the success of a start-up is to build a robust cultural DNA, where cultural DNA refers to the combination of values, motivation, team spirit and behaviour shared by the team.

At its most basic, cultural DNA is the collective programming of the mind, which distinguishes the members of one start-up team from another. Cultural DNA exists within a start-up, whether the founding team takes the time to clarify and define it or not. The values, beliefs, motivations, and behaviour of the founders are the first genetic strands that form the backbone of the company’s cultural DNA. A company’s cultural DNA develops from the initial social structures inherent within the founding team. It is a product of such factors as orientation to life, behavioural conventions, policies/processes/procedures (or lack thereof), how the team communicates and works together, how the company deals with failure, mistakes and learning, and even national culture. It is counterproductive to try and borrow another successful company’s cultural DNA because the founding team consists of unique individuals, and therefore the cultural DNA of each company will be unique.

As a start-up gains traction, the team will spend an increasing amount of time focusing on growth, expanding the business and bringing in new employees, so investing time in shaping an attractive cultural DNA will make the start-up more effective, a great place to work and increase the company’s chances of building the best possible team. Cultural DNA should be treated like a valuable asset within a start-up, an asset that will appreciate over time if it is managed and developed correctly. Cultural DNA can be strengthened or weakened by adding new team members. If a team member acts in accordance with the fundamentals, then that culture resides in them; if they do not share those values or behaviours, then they do not share that cultural DNA.

The first strands of a start-up’s cultural DNA are defined by the founding team, yet the cultural DNA is not static; it develops over time and it is critical that the founders invest time to develop and nurture their cultural DNA. To build the strongest foundations for their start-up, the founders first have understand what their cultural DNA actually is, decide how they want to develop it, and then start to move the team towards the desired culture. The first step in that process involves understanding the values of the founders, the team and the company.

Part I of a multi blog post.

Next blog – Cultural DNA and Values.



“If you’re a great fucking developer…”

Posted on: No Comments

In the war for talent, employers are having to be more creative about how they catch the eye of top level candidates. Job descriptions can sometimes be your first opportunity to communicate not only the day-to-day responsibilities of the role you’re hiring for, but more importantly why an exceptional candidate should join your start-up over any other. Recently there has been a lot of furore around Snapchat’s inventive ways of trying to poach Uber’s software engineers, and hilarious, forthright software developer job descriptions like this, which went viral recently, show there are ways and means to stand out from the crowd when recruiting.

The software developer job description is great, as it makes it really stand out from the crowd. In the competitive business of trying to attract top talent, it is a great, light-hearted way to get attention, as well as giving a good idea of what the company culture is like, and what it would be like to work there. By also describing the other people who work there, and the perks and rewards of success there, the description answers a lot of questions that a prospective employee might have. Whilst we can’t condone the amount of swearing, we think it’s a great idea.

Another unusual method of recruitment which has been in the news recently is the attempt by Snapchat to poach engineers from other tech Unicorns, especially Uber, but also Twitter, Airbnb and Pinterest. Using their Geo-filter technology, whereby a special overlay for a Snap can be added on in certain geographic locations, Snapchat targeted employees of these companies by painting their rivals in a negative light on these geo-filters, and attempting to entice people to Snapchat instead. This is a good example of using new technologies to try new ways of attracting top talent.

Embedded image permalink

With the battle to hire Software developers and engineers fierce, it is often Job descriptions and adverts for this role that are the most interesting. There are a number of examples like the one below, where a maths problem is used as a test for engineers. This quirky way of advertising both makes the ad stand out, and help to attract the right calibre of candidate.

Another new interesting way of trying to attract candidates to your job, is through a new range of apps, such as and, which are attempting to tap into the popularity of Tinder and create an equivalent “tinder for recruitment”. As a recruiter, this would require treating your job description like you would a dating profile. You want it to be compelling, and to communicate to the reader your values, sense of humour, what you’re looking for, the benefits you offer, and why they should consider you a tempting prospect as an employer. Use the fact that so many employers use dull, run-of-the-mill job specs to your advantage, by creating a profile which allows the culture and potential of your company to shine through.

Blonk App Screenshot

It remains to be seen as to whether these apps become a success, as it is difficult to be able to assess a lot about a candidate in such a quick fashion. Then again, the same could be said for dating. As an initial method of registering interest, this could very well work, and it will be interesting to find out how apps like these, and other innovative ways of recruiting, will be implemented in the future.

Rosemary Forsyth to be part of UKTI investment mission to Cuba

Posted on: No Comments

Rosemary Forsyth will be an official delegate on the UK Trade & Investment Mission to Cuba, 23 April to 4 May, sponsored by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, UK Trade & Investment, and the Cuban Ministry of Foreign Trade & Investment. Rosemary will meet with Cuban information technology entities and government officials to to discuss investment and outsourcing services in the developing IT sector.

Contact Us

United Kingdom
47 Barnes High Street
SW13 9LN
United Kingdom

Telephone: +44(0) 20 8878 9189

United States
118 Horizon View Drive
Vermont 05466
United States

Telephone: +1 802 448 5955

Twitter: @forsythgroup

Facebook: Forsyth Group