Organizational Culture by Eileen ODonoghue*Here at St. Olaf we leave our backpacks and computers lying around, we eat in the home line when the line is long enough to intrigue us, and we accept legions to be the height of nightlife in Northfield. There is not a concrete way to measure culture. Culture gives meaning and predictability to our daily lives. It is simply how we do things around here. And it determines and is represented by collective norms and behaviors.*Why study culture? If an organization has an undesirable culture, Why not just change it? It is difficult to get one person to change their behaviors, let alone an entire organization. Organizational culture determines strategy, goals, and modes of behavior.
*When looking at culture I really looked at it breaking it into three different levels. I got these three levels originally from Edgar Schein the father of corporate culture, but his ideas were reiterated by many people I studied this year. The first level is artifacts. Artifacts are the visible processes of an organization. When you walk into a place, artifacts are what you can observe or feel. An example of artifacts at St. Olaf College are that there are no professors present while students are taking a test.
The next level is espoused values. These are the visible processes of an organization. They are recognized in strategies, goals and philosophies.An example of an espoused value at St. Olaf is the honor code. *The third and final level of organizational culture is shared tacit assumptions. This level shows the unconscious, taken for granted beliefs, perceptions, thoughts, and feelings of members of an organization. It is the ultimate sources of values and actions. The underlying assumption behind the honor code, and the fact that there are no professors in the class room at St. Olaf is that we trust each other here.I used these three levels of organization culture to study two organizations during the second semester. The two organizations I looked at both have culture that drove to customer service being their competitive advantage, but they manifested in very different ways. I chose zappos because it is a company that has had tremendous success and who bases much of what they do on their culture. Zappos hires employees on a 50% competence basis and 50% culture basis. They want to see if someone who is a potential candidate to get hired will fit in well with the employees and the way they do things at Zappos. There are companies that focus on work-life separation or work-life balance and at Zappos we really focus on work-life integration and at the end of the day it just life .and especially if you spend so much time at work you better enjoy the time that youe spending there and people that youe with
Zappos was founded in 1999. It is a company that focuses on customer service. They own their own fufillment center to facilitate shipping. In 2009, Amazon puchased Zappos for $1.2 billion*I will talk about the third level, shared tacit assumptions, first because it brings the idea of culture together more easily. The Zappos culture came from a vision of Tony Hsieh. He hires through a culture fit, and fires people through the same process. He wants to work with his friends. This way, most people will have good days. If you are having a bad day, you would rather have people around you like than people you do not. He believes a good and fun culture will build good customer service and the brand. The entire concept of Zappos was derived for making shoes more available and easier to get.Zappos: Zappos has a new headquarters opening in Las Vegas. The old Las Vegas city hall was bought by Zappos to put their new headquarters in. Tony Hseih plans to revive the community around the headquarters. He will spend $350 of his own money to build residences, coffee shops, gyms, and small tech start-ups in the area. He wants to deliver happiness through this new headquarters. *It is not about shoes. Zappos is a customer service company that just happens to sell shoes. -Tony Hsieh. These are a list of Zapposs core values. I believe it is especially important to focus on value 1 and 6 and understand the connection between those and the culture we have been looking at. Their culture fosters customer service and brand identityChose best buy because it is a case study in progress. History. Founded 1966. Name changed to Best Buy in 1983 under the idea that it would become a big box store that sold many items for cheap prices. In 1999 it began cross-promoting product with Microsoft. In 2000 it launched its website. Throughout this time they had great growth domestically. In the early 2000s Schulze retired and as replaced by longtime friend Anderson. Best Buy expanded into Canada, Europe and Asia. And it purchased the music sharing site napster. In 2009 Brian Dunn was hired and attempted to downsize a bit due to some large losses Best Buy was seeing. He was fired due to a scandal that involved inappropriate relations with a female employee. In 2012 Schulze worked on raising money to take Best Buy private. His attempts proved to be unsuccessful. Hubert Joly was named CEO during this time.In 1981, there was a tornado that went through the roseville which was where the sound of music, the name of Rick Schulzes original electronics store. This tornado took the roof off of the store and dismantled many of products as it threw them around. Schulze reacted by setting up a tornado sale at the MN state fair camp grounds. He dubbed the sale a best buy. The sale was found to be a success. This changed Best Buys strategy in terms of making products available to customers at a larger scale and cheaper price and The sound of music was changed to best buy. Best buy employees often look at this story as something to hold onto when it is going through a tough time. This story is told in training every year at Best Buy. They could persevere from any tornado.
New leader Joly. His background is in the hospitality industry as CEO or Carlson. He recognized Best Buys needs to improve their customer service when he spent his first couple weeks on the floor at a store of best buy. Hubert Joly is Best Buys new CEO. He is the former CEO at Carlson, a hospitality and travel based company. Originally, people did not understand why Best Buy would hire someone who had not worked in retail to save the company. I believe this is a good hire because they are finally understanding what competitive advantage their culture brought about.*Best Buys headquarters are located about a half hour north on 35. In their HQ, one will find a U.S. Bank location, fitness center, full service cafeteria, Caribou Coffee shop, child care, vehicle maintenance and cleaning service, dry cleaning and the Department of Motor Vehicles even comes down every Tuesday to take vehicle registration and license renewals for employees. Their offices are set up in four desk sets of cubicles to promote teamwork. These are Best Buys core values. They are pretty fluffy and do not speak much to what the company believes in. Best Buy had a program called ROWE until recently. This program allowed Best Buy employees to work for where ever they wanted when ever they wanted. There only job was to complete their work. This is different from what their artifacts because it was set up in a way that promoted teamwork.Zappos is a young company still, but the culture does seem to be driving success. Their greatest asset, customer service, is seen in its artifacts with call center training for each employee and free shipping. It is seen in the companies espoused values with motivating employees to build open communication and deliver WOW through service. The underlying assumptions of customer service are seen in both artifacts and espoused values due to the success that the organization has had due to customer service
Best Buy: Best Buy seems to have lost sight of its original advantage which was customer service. The tornado . They have hired a CEO in the BB provided customer service in their articles with geek squad and the blue shirts on the floor, but they did not have a customer service section on their website and have had troubles with back orders on their website. They did not through their espoused values because they took the wrong lessons from challenges like the tornado story and lost site of their real advantage of customer service and masked it with growth and variety. They were unable to do things like unleash the power of their people with their ROWE concept. Their underlying assumptions began with Schulze in providing affordable merchandise to customers and after many missteps I believe that Joly may be a good person to lead them into the present with his background in hospitality and steps he has already taken towards improving the overall experience for the customer.*Good culture is a function of the degree to which shared tacit assumptions create the kind of strategy that is functional in the organizations environment. And while there is no correct or right culture, understanding ones culture can lead to a sustaining a competitive advantage. **Culture Leadership Change: Atari- CEO from marketing firm. Had an incentive based/personal responsibility culture. Culture was collaborative creative based. Reduced fun and creativity.
Good to great: disciplined people, disciplined thought, disciplined actionAligning incentives and rewards with values and behaviors. Rinsing the cottage cheese story. David Scott. Wins six triathlons. When training was on high carb, low fat diet. Everyday he would rinse the cottage cheese.