Yesterday, we learned that venture capital investors forced the resignation of Uber CEO Travis Kalanick. The company has undergone a tumultuous year, including a massive sexual harassment scandal as well as accusations about stolen files from Google. What can we learn from the challenges that the company has faced? There are many lessons; here are three big ones:
1. We have to be very, very cautious about situations in which investors place seemingly blind faith in a charismatic, successful CEO who is succeeding by challenging conventional wisdom and "breaking all the rules." Where was the Board when clear warning signs had emerged about improper behavior quite some time ago?
2. Startups cannot simply ignore human resources rules, policies, and procedures. They matter. You have to have guidelines for employee conduct. There's a point where you stifle people with too much bureaucracy. However, Uber seems to have gone too far in the other direction.
3. Culture eats strategy for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Uber might have an amazing strategy that has catapulted it to remarkable success in a short period of time. However, a rotten culture has taken down its CEO and many other top executives, caused lost market share to Lyft, and could be the downfall of the firm. You have get culture right. Values matter more than strategy.