If the Shoe Fits: Let Carl Sagan Help Guide Your Culture

If the Shoe Fits: Let Carl Sagan Help Guide Your Culture

Post from: MAPpingCompanySuccess

A Friday series exploring Startups and the people who make them go. Read all If the Shoe Fits posts here

5726760809_bf0bf0f558_mWhen you talk abut cultural guideposts to engineers they often hold their collective noses and chant “fuzzy, fuzzy.”

Given that they prefer algorithms to concepts, providing direction from a source they respect may be acceptable in lieu of hard data.

Enter Carl Sagan, whose credentials are as solid as they come, and his The Rules of the Game.

To be useful, culture needs to embody a company’s values, in order provide guidance to ethical and moral questions, as well as human interactions.

Not only do Sagan’s Rules address all three, but the short essay in which he explains them is written with the same care ad skill he lavished on his books and work.


The Golden Rule Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
The Silver Rule Do not do unto others what you would not have them do unto you.
The Brazen Rule Do unto others as they do unto you.
The Iron Rule Do unto others as you like, before they do it unto you.
The Tit-for-Tat Rule Cooperate with others first, then do unto them as they do unto you.

Introduce the rules by sharing the essay with your people.

If you run into resistance, overcome it by pointing out that Robert Axelrod, whose undergraduate degree is mathematics, evaluated the Rules positively in the light of the prisoner’s dilemma (game theory).

Typically, the Tit-for-Tat Rule garners the highest rating, because it makes so much sense.

And the Silver Rule provides terrific guidance to both new and experienced managers.

Thank you (again) Carl Sagan.

Image credit: HikingArtist

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