As VCs, we can voice observations, opinions, demands (which might or might not be met :)). We can assist, coach, or mentor the current CEO. But unless you are also a board director and — together with all other board directors — hire a new CEO, we cannot fix culture.
Nicholas Pearce, on Dear HBR, from May 3rd, 2018:
[They are talking about three case studies]
I always advise folks to recognize that culture change is not a bottom up or a middle out type of change phenomenon. Culture change has to be top down because the C-Suite and namely the CEO, or executive director, the number one person in the house, they set the tone. They create the environment. So, for anyone who is not the CEO to endeavor to change culture, it is a brave, high-risk endeavor. And so, you best be sure that this is something that not only you think is a good idea but is a mountain you’re willing to die on. Because it could very well cost you your organizational life.
Fixing culture is a big job and this is not something that you can remote control. This is something that is intensely human, intensely personal, intensely relational and what the research tells us is that we are able to build trust with people through sustained interaction and we are most easily able to interact with people who are physically close to us. That being even more than 10 meters away from someone decreases your likelihood of communication exponentially. So, when there’s no communication, there’s no relationship. No relationship, no trust. No trust, no license to lead. No license to lead, no right to change the culture. You’re not even a part of the culture. You’re on the outskirts. You’re not even a part of it in many people’s minds.