Tag Archives: corporate culture

BOOK REVIEW: “Leverage: The CEO’s Guide to Corporate Culture” by John R. Childress (2013)

Leverage: The CEO's Guide to Corporate Culture by John R. Childress Defining corporate culture and its impact on strategy has become a major area in academic research and in the world of consultancy. John Childress’ book, which is entertaining and gives many examples, tries to outline exactly what culture is and how this can be dealt with on a day to day basis.

Key words:

Corporate culture, leadership, organization, management, employees, subculture

Summary:

John Childress

Childress investigates social aspects within corporations and decribes their influences

Childress is a management consultant and clearly has a good understanding of what culture is and its impact on the results of a company. He gives some nice examples of disasters within companies due to their culture not being aligned with their strategy. Carly Fiorina failed as the CEO of Hewlett Packard because she tried to impose a sales driven culture in an organization that was largely dominated by engineers who simply did not understand what the CEO was trying to achieve. This is an excellent lesson in the fact that performance is not just a question of having a top-down strategy that is imposed by senior management. In fact, the rank and file of an organization and employees of all levels have a big role to play in ensuring that the company performs well.

One of Childress’ big contributions is pointing out that often managers and bosses possess ambitious plans in changing the culture of an organization. Unfortunately, this rarely works. In fact, companies that have managed to change their culture have done so by making small changes and consistently driving them forward on a day-to-day basis. Of course, this is not quite as sexy as the grandiose plan, but it is much more effective.

The book is also highly entertaining in that it gives many diagrams to make the notion of corporate culture easier to understand. In one graph, it shows just how unpopular Ryanair is with a 35 to 40 percent negative rating in a Yougov poll. This has not stopped the company from becoming highly successful. Culture can be very important in ensuring that the alignment between strategy and culture is adequately executed and will make a major contribution to the success of a company.

BBC interviews Google’s employees about corporate culture
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f_R3XG7s2hw

Interesting quotes:

“Carly Fiona, the celebrity CEO of Hewlett-Packard was fired for trying to turn a culture of “technical excellence” to “sales culture.” It was a change too far and HP culture was too strong.”

“CEOs can talk and blab all day about culture, but the employees know who the jerks are. – Jack Welch”

“Warren Buffett, one of the more savvy investors of the past three decades, made a bold and profound statement in a recent annual letter to the Berkshire Hathaway shareholders: “Culture, more than rule books, determines how an organization behaves.”

“The culture of the factory is its customary and traditional way of thinking and of doing things, which is shared to a greater or lesser extent by all its members, and which new members must learn, and at least partially accept, in order to be accepted into service in the firm.”

“MIT Professor Edgar Schein (often referred to as the father of corporate culture) put culture on a more solid academic footing when he published Organizational Culture and Leadership in 1985.”

“Booz Allen Hamilton, along with The Aspen Institute conducted a global survey in 2005 with 9500 senior executives. They found that 89% of the companies surveyed had written values statements.”

“They found that 89% of the companies surveyed had written values statements.”

“Your brand is formed primarily, not by what your company says about itself, but what the company does. – Jeff Bezos, CEO Amazon”

“Another problem with so many experts writing about culture is the confusion between corporate culture and climate.”

“I believe it makes good sense for the senior executives to look closely at the business processes they are using internally. What I suspect you will find is that many of them are “legacy processes” developed some time ago when business conditions are different and might just be fostering a set of behaviours counter to the culture you now require.”

“The Netflix culture deck, titled Netflix Culture, Freedom and Responsibility, published on the web (Hastings, 2013) has over 4 million viewings and Facebook likes. Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, called it “the most important document ever to come out of Silicon Valley.”

“People don’t resist change. They resist changed! – Peter Senge”

“75% of what people want from work is NOT pay related!”

“When you hear the word “merger of equals”, grab your wallet and run!”

 

See more book reviews:

BOOK REVIEW: “Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die” by Chip Heath & Dan Heath (2010)

Made-to-Stick cover

Common myths and stories that are so popular that they have become ingrained in our culture, and become retold throughout the world: Did you know that the Great Wall of China is the only man-made object visible from space? You did? It’s not true.  It’s what´s known as an urban myth.  These are so stories that are so popular that they have become ingrained in our culture, and become retold throughout the world.  In Made to Stick, Chip and Dan Heath explain why some of these stories ‘stick.’ 

BOOK REVIEW: “The New Yorker: Office Humor” by Jean-Loup Chiflet (2012)

The New YorkerI am very grateful to a colleague at work who clearly to took pity on me after seeing all those book reviews on strategy and management stuff. Thinking that I needed a break but realizing that Dostoyevsky or Tolstoy was probably a waste of time, she offered me a collection of cartoons on office humour taken from The New Yorker. Work is one of those things that unite people across borders. Many of the cartoons are easy to identify with whether you are in Stockholm, Shanghai or Santiago de Chile. It is a nice way to take a break. 

BOOK REVIEW: “Promises Fulfilled and Unfulfilled in Management Education” by Howard Thomas, Lynne Thomas and Alexander Wilson (2013)

Promises Fulfilled and Unfulfilled in Management EducationCommissioned by EFMD and Emerald, this book is an analysis of thirty-nine interviews of key stakeholders in management education.  It sets out some of the major issues and talking points, taking the reader through the history of management education to ongoing challenges.  Many of these issues are not new, such as the role and value of research, the relevance of teaching done in the classroom, and links to the corporate world.  Criticisms of business schools have been ongoing over the past ten years, most notably from within the industry.  In 2005, Chris Grey of Warwick Business School argued that they have become just finishing schools for elites to prepare them for well-paid positions in finance and consulting. 

 

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Fixing positive change: creating an efficient corporate culture with a piece of string, a hammer and a bell

Using symbolic objects can be a powerful way to motivate staff and communicate a message. What, for example, do a long piece of string, a hammer and a bell have in common? The answer is that they can be found in three of the world’s most successful companies and have had an impact on positive change of the corporate culture.

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BOOK REVIEW: “From Worst to First” By Gordon Bethune (1999)

From-Worst-to-First-by-Gordon-Bethune

The turnaround of continental airlines in the 1980’s is one of the most remarkable stories of the corporate world. The company was set up in 1934 and for decades had been known for quality of its service and the stability and caring of its governance structure. Indeed the CEO Bob Six had actually been CEO of the company from 1936 till 1981. The deregulation of the airline industry by the Carter administration changed all that. Suddenly, Airline companies became caught in a dog fight for market share. In an industry that saw its profits plummeting due to the increase of oil prices and also the lack of barriers to entry in the industry. By the time Gordon Bethune took over in 1994, the company had gone bankrupt already and had gone through 10 leaders in 10 years and looked, to all intents and purposes to be totally doomed. Continue reading

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“Big successes come from dealing with the little things.” claims Reuben Mark, former CEO of Colgate-Palmolive.

Reuben Mark

“If you have good numbers, show them up front!” begins Reuben Mark. The numbers for Colgate-Palmolive are indeed impressive. Speaking as a guest at the Harvard Business School, the former CEO of Colgate-Palmolive can show a total return of some 4200% during his 23-year tenure. This is more than 40% higher than peer companies. But Mr. Mark claims that this success is due to the company’s ability deal with the small, everyday issues. This may not make for dramatic headlines, but they are universal things that have kept the company in business since its creation in 1806.  Continue reading

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BOOK REVIEW “Good Strategy / Bad Strategy” by Richard Rumelt (2011)

Summary

John Kay, one of Britain’s leading economists, declared that this is “the first book on strategy that I have found difficult to put down.” He is not the only one. It is an excellent read and gives a very thoughful insight into the strategic choices that companies must face. This has to be one of the best books on strategy that I have read this year.

Key words

Strategy, understanding strategy, market leader, sustainable competitive advantage. Continue reading

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BOOK REVIEW: “Essentials of Strategic Management” by J. David Hunger and Thomas L. Wheelen (2010)

Key words

Strategy, management, information systems, corporate culture, technology management

Summary

The book gives an excellent outline of some of the fundementals issues in strategic management. The book is short and generally to the point. It provides good data summaries and ideas that can be put into practice in the business world. It is also realatively easy to read. It deals quite heavily with corporate culture and has some useful ideas on the importance of technology management in strategy.

Interesting quotes from the book:

Strategic management is that set of managerial decisions and actions that determines the long-run performance of a corporation.

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BOOK REVIEW: “Talent Management : Financial Times Briefings” by Stephen Hoare and Andrew Leigh (2011)

Managing your talent in a companyTalent Management: Financial Times Briefings by Stephen Hoare and Andrew Leigh

Key words

Talent management, strategy, organizational culture, corporate culture, generation Y and generation X, women in business, Marks & Spencer, UPS, oil industry, Deloitte

Summary

Talent management is defined as “what an organization does to recruit, retain and develop talent for its future benefit.” This closely linked to the strategy and corporate culture and therefore the long term success of the organization. Understanding how to manage employees then is a key factor to maintaining profits.Performance Evaluation Continue reading

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