Supercell’s Lesley Mansford outlines the importance of evolving the company culture to maintain growth

Mistakes and challenges made Supercell a role model in the gaming industry!

Lesley Mansford, Co-Chief People Officer of Supercell highlighted the necessity of the evolution of a company’s culture for growth. The journey to becoming a better company day by day is as important as maintaining a good culture inside. In a 2022 GDC session, she unfolded many things in her presentation on ‘’Challenging Supercell’s Sacred Cows: The Importance of Evolving Company Culture as You Grow’’.

The core culture of Supercell reshaped the company’s realization and constant growth

supercell model
Image via Supercell

From the very founding of the company, Supercell has seen a lot of ups and downs in its journey. The company is known for five of its best games and killing games as well. The traditional model of operating a company follows a principle where some people sit on the leads and create the visions for the teams for what they should be doing.

Then the teams are the ones that execute the visions. ‘’The Supercell model from the beginning is a little bit different’’, Lesley said. ‘’We made the model upside down and it’s the game teams that make all of those decisions, the leadership, and the management. ‘’Though it doesn’t portray the whole culture of Supercell, it is the heart of it’’, she added. 

The evolution of Supercell’s culture started with the idea of freedom and responsibility

The timeline of Supercell started in 2009. Following the Netflix culture, the core idea was freedom and responsibility. Focusing on individuals could be a really interesting model. The tagline was “the best people make the best games”.

supercell growth culture

Over the years, Supercell didn’t seem interested in the culture deck. However, Supercell presented the official culture deck in 2014. After a lot of discussions and thinking over the mistakes the company has made, the realization changes to “the best teams make the best games”. ‘’It was a fundamental shift in our thinking’’, Lesley quoted. 

It is important to evolve the company culture according to what people love the most about their culture

As Lesley highlighted the importance, she said that culture is never done. Building a culture deck is not easy as companies run themselves at different mottos and paces. Even if it is the traditional approach or not, the evolution is for, like Supercell did, finding the fact that the best days are over or yet to come. The assessment process that Supercell follows is starting with pre-discussions.

supercell growth culture
Image via GDC 2022

Followed by another three criteria, the assessment took a year. The asking raised two questions that are what people love the most about their culture and don’t want to change. This includes freedom, trust, responsibility, independence, etc. The next one is, however, what needs to be changed to do the best work. This could include things like discussions around mental health. 

At the end of the day, culture is about actions and behaviors towards the employees

Supercell did take a lot from those assessments as stands now as it is. So, Lesley pointed out that a company should be more focused on the fact that a good culture is a core in every aspect of shaping a company’s approach. Creating high-performance teams, and providing an open and safe environment for the developers. Hearing the ideas are some crucial things a company must take into account. Some of the key lessons that Lesley highlighted are:

  • Start early, write it down
  • Set goals and listen to your teams 
  • Challenge your sacred cows
  • Actions, not presentations
  • Gather real stories and broadcast them

Maintaining a similar culture in different offices is possible as it is a continuous process and keeps evolving

In an asked question in that GDC session, Lesley was asked if it is possible to maintain a similar culture in every company Supercell has around the world. Lesley said that it is the people who want to follow the core culture of Supercell. Irrespective of being different nationalities, Supercell only hires those who want to be a part of its culture.

Finally, culture is never done. It is a continuous process and will keep evolving by learning from the mistakes and gathering experiences. To grow as a leading company or even as an indie game developing company, the importance of evolving culture bear much important.

What are your thoughts about the outlined growth culture of Supercell at GDC 2022? Let us know in the comments below!

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