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How to maintain a good culture amid high growth

Leaders won’t be successful if they’re propping up values that don’t ring true for everyone

Source | | Rachel Ranosa

‘Move fast and break things’ may have been the mantra of the past decade – one that witnessed the rise of high-growth startups, scaleups and unicorns. Innovation, after all, entails not just agility but also an openness to making mistakes (and the humility to learn from them).

Airbnb, one of the most celebrated hypergrowth companies from the era, knows this all too well. A pioneer of the ‘sharing economy,’ the home rental business was privately valued at US$31bn before the COVID-19 pandemic. But as the travel industry was ground to a halt, the company lost $1bn.

The crisis has revealed cracks in Airbnb’s system – and cast the idea of hypergrowth in a new light: “We grew so fast; we made mistakes,” said CEO Brian Chesky in a recent interview with The Times.

Even in the early months of the pandemic, the CEO had chosen to ‘overcommunicate’ and be transparent with his staff in the midst of what he called the “most harrowing crisis of our lifetime”.

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