Sometimes a company’s culture is defined by their market. Consider Odyssey Marine Exploration, based in Tampa, Florida. Odyssey is the world leader in deepocean shipwreck exploration, searching the globe’s vast oceans for sunken ships with intriguing stories, extraordinary treasure, and precious artifacts spanning centuries of maritime travel. If you are a fan of the Discovery Channel, you may be familiar with Odyssey through the series Treasure Quest. You may also have seen their terrific exhibit at the Maryland Science Center’s “Pirates and Treasure” exhibit.
Virtually every employee at Odyssey works there because of what the company does. CEO Mark Gordon calls it “living a childhood dream.” The mission of the company is compelling, but Odyssey’s leaders are not content with letting the treasurehunter moniker be the company’s only cultural attribute. Although Odyssey is a publicly traded company, it still makes time for events like town hall meetings, miniparties to celebrate birthdays, and Oktoberfest. Many times, the small actions that leaders take are what characterize the culture and make employees want to go the extra mile for the company.
Odyssey also makes it very clear to the staff that treasure hunting is a capitalintense operation and balancing risk with outcomes is critical for its longterm corporate health. Odyssey has decided that the company’s mission can attract the kind of people it is looking for, but to turn those thrillseeking employees into treasurehunting professionals who understand how the company makes money takes the right blend of cultural norms and business practices.