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GDC: challenging Supercell’s ‘sacred cows’ and internal culture

Supercell’s Lesley Mansford details the company’s efforts to discern and improve its internal culture
GDC: challenging Supercell’s ‘sacred cows’ and internal culture

Co-chief people officer at Supercell, Lesley Mansford, describes the employee structure of Supercellas a little irregular. Unlike other companies, Supercell’s small teams operate with considerable independence and are managed by fewer decision-makers and executives.

But Mansford notes that it took several years until the creation of a Supercell culture deck, describing it as “full of great content. Too much, no one could remember much from it.”. It was streamlined, again in a process that took multiple years.

In 2019, Supercell issued its first culture memo, which could include more information and scenarios, and in 2021 the company embarked on a significant internal investigation, predicated on a question from Supercell co-founder and CEO Ilkka Paananen: are Supercell’s best days ahead or behind us?

2021 culture review

The survey had two questions: what do you love about our culture that you would never want to change, and what needs to change about our culture for you to do your best work? The latter solicited responses including communication and mental health provisions.

One of the most significant changes includes a preference of small teams – which has led to significant burnout within the company – acknowledging the need for greater manpower for live games, soft launches, and betas.

Core takeaways

Mansford presents some core takeaways:

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

Additionally, you can read more from Manford on Supercell’s working culture soon on