Joel Peterson, Vice-Chair of JetBlue, investor and serial entrepreneur, spoke on organizational culture at the Conference on Entrepreneurship at Stanford's Graduate School of Business a few weeks ago:
When you think about topics to talk to entrepreneurs about, culture is one of the last ones you typically think about, because you're in the business of getting something started, it's chaotic [and] the last thing you're thinking about is culture-building. It's just the most irrelevant topic...and I'm going to try to convince you that it's not as irrelevant as you think. I was teaching a similar...course a few years back, and I...called on one of the entrepreneurs in the audience and asked him about culture, and he said, "We don't have any culture in our business..." Well, you have a culture. When you've decided you don't have a culture, you've got one... The question is: Do you want to influence it or not? Do you really want to have a hand in shaping it or not? You are going to have it, either inadvertently or with some planning and some forethought.
I imagine few readers of this site need to be convinced about the importance of organizational culture, but it's still inspiring to hear a financial heavyweight like Peterson make the case. (I took a class with Peterson as a student at the GSB, and I've written twice before about thought-provoking concepts that I took away from his lectures.)
Update: Here's another lecture on culture by Peterson delivered in 2010, and here are all his videos on the GSB's YouTube channel. He was one of my favorite B-school profs as a student over a decade ago, and I'm still learning from him today.