Changing corporate culture — put the term into Google and you’ll find big companies and consultants offering theories, case studies and help. Very often leaders in businesses large and small equate change management with culture change. Let’s examine what kind of change they’re talking about, and let’s see if we can describe it in plain English.
What is Corporate Culture?
Webster’s Dictionary defines corporate culture as “the shared values, traditions, customers, philosophy, and policies of a corporation; also, the professional atmosphere that grows from this and affects behavior and performance.” Got it?
Do the Google search mentioned above and you may get to read about multi-layered belief systems and organizational psychology and other things that I don’t have enough advanced degrees to understand.
Ask people for their definition, and you’ll get a variety of responses. The most common one may well be some variation of “I’m not exactly sure, but I know it when I see it.”
Do you like simple, straightforward explanations? Me too. Here’s one for corporate culture: it’s the experience, the feeling you get when you either work for an organization, or when you do business with the organization as a customer.
If you’re a leader looking to change the performance of your organization, you need to determine whether you’re fixing a few broken processes or changing the culture. Changing corporate culture is fundamental and thus more difficult. But if you pull it off, changing corporate culture can produce breakthroughs, step function improvements in your performance measures.
Two Views of the Culture
In the simple definition offered above, you noticed that corporate culture is comprised of what employees experience, and what customers experience. These are two distinct views, and while one impacts the other you need to address each view uniquely.
Ideally, you want to believe that if you make everything right for your employees they will take care of your customers. There’s some truth to that. Herb Kelleher attributes his success at Southwest Airlines to focusing on “employees first, customers second, and profits third”.
He’s wise, but pay attention to what he didn’t say. He did not say take care of your employees and they’ll take care of your customers and you’ll make money. He’s too smart for absolutes. There’s an order to things, and based on results he’s got the right order for his business. You still need to pay attention to all three things.
The Employee Perspective
Employees describe culture as “what it’s like to work here”. Indeed job seekers are always wondering exactly that as they research potential employers. Their definition of culture may be impacted by:
Pay for performance (or not)
Accountability (team, individual, management)
Availability of training
The Customer Perspective
For the customer, your culture is “what it’s like to do business with you”. Terms that may show up in their description of your culture could include:
Quality of Products
Supplier behavior vs. Partner behavior
People – their attitude, their skill level
You can probably add to each list (and you’re invited to do so by commenting or contacting the author!).
What’s the Point?
If you don’t know what your culture is, how are you going to change it? Many of the cultural characteristics described above can be measured. Others can be clearly described.
The leader who can articulate specifically what needs to be changed in corporate culture will most likely succeed. You know the other side of that coin.
Changing corporate culture won’t be easy, mostly because it’s about changing attitudes and behaviors and some people aren’t going to go with you. The clearer you can be with defining (and quantifying) what’s to be changed, the more quickly you can help those people find something else to do and get everyone else engaged.
What Makes a Home a Green House?
One of the main topics today is about being environmentally friendly. There are many ways to become environmentally friendly about the home including water preservation and energy reduction. This not only helps with a positive action by reducing your impact on the environment, but will also save you money!
Lets take a look at what makes a home green.
Reduced Energy Use
Energy comes in many forms such as electricity, natural gas, oil, etc. The creation or use of this energy results in greenhouse gas emissions that affect our planet in a negative way.
Methods of Reducing Energy Usage
Insulation, One of the best things that you can do to make a green house is to ensure that the walls, windows, attic, and floors are all well insulated and draft free. The majority of the energy used in a home goes towards heating the house. Insulation will prevent the air temperature from escaping the home and save you money on your utilities.
Energy Star Appliances When one of your appliances has reached it’s end of life, or when you are building a new home, consider installing an appliance that meets energy star requirements. This will ensure that it will use over 30 percent less electricity or fuel than a typical appliance of that type.
Other options include advanced mechanical Systems On demand tankless water heaters, geothermal HVAC equipment, and even solar power is a great way to reduce the amount of energy that is wasted to run the plumbing, heat and air, and electrical systems in the home. While they can have a higher upfront cost than a typical unit of its kind, tax incentives from the government can offset a good deal of the extra cost and allow you to make the money back within a few years time.
Reduced Water Use
Water is another essential resource that can be preserved in our day to day use around the house.
Low Flow Fixtures Many low flow shower heads and toilets developed a bad reputation in the past because they could not live up to their less efficient counterparts. Fortunately, todays better engineered models and aerators allow you to experience the luxury and ease of use that you prefer, while additionally using a significantly lower amount of water.
Efficient Clothes Washers Many of the newer front loading clothes washers use as little as half of the water of a typical top loading washer. For families who are constantly putting in a new load of dirty clothes, this can lead to a significant savings in cost and water usage over time.
Use Rain Water For Irrigation For those who want to really cut down on water usage, storage tanks that collect rain water during a storm for latter use to water the garden and lawn can save thousands of gallons over the span of a summer.
These are just a few of the many ideas out there that will help ensure that your home is green. Environmentally friendly decisions in the home can lead to wallet friendly results over time and allow for the satisfaction of knowing you are reducing your negative impact on the planet.
At Be Seen Go Green, we offer solutions for a variety of Environmental issues. Please click on the following link to contact us.
More and more business are talking about ‘Corporate social responsibility’, it’s definitely the buzz word of the moment… but what do they actually mean and is it something we all should be doing?
Corporate social responsibility or CSR is a concept where companies consider the interests of society and take responsibility for the impact of their activities on their employees, stakeholders and customers and also the environment.
Organizations take steps to improve the quality of life for employees and their families as well as for the local community and society at large.
Discounted gym membership, cycle to work schemes, childcare vouchers and healthy food in the office are all examples of schemes a company might offer to their employer to make the working environment a better one. A happier work environment makes for happier staff and happier staff are more likely to work harder and work more efficiently.
Companies might also want to help the environment. Shutting down computers at the end of the day, turning lights off, switching off plugs at the mains are all examples of the small things we can do every day in our office. We can also recycling paper and card, drinks cans and plastic bottles.
Corporate social responsibility is not just about what we do in our office and what our employer offers us….it is also what we can give back. Helping out local charities, holding events, taking a day out a year to help a charity, school, youth club or another local business are all ways that we can make a positive contribution to the communities we work in.
Although this might seem like obvious steps that we should all be taking in our offices and homes, the practise of CSR is subject to much criticism and debate. Some critics think that the government should be helping the communities more and that it shouldn’t be up to local businesses, other say that CSR distracts from the fundamental economic role of businesses. Some of these arguments may very well be true but it doesn’t hurt us all to do our bit, and everyone is more likely to help and make an effort if they are encouraged to by their employers. If you are encouraged to recycle at work, you are likely to start making an effort recycling at home, the same applies to being energy efficient.
CSR is being adopted by more and more companies and there is now a huge place in the market for CSR specialists. Many businesses will employ a CSR specialist to come into their work place and help them develop their strategies whether it is demonstrating how they can be more energy efficient or how they can get in touch with and how they can help with schemes in their local community.
Successful businesses are either low-cost providers or niche players – thus says Michael Porter. However, many have opposed this idea and claim that it is flawed. For instance, Charles W. L. Hill, an educator, in 1988, proposed that a combination of differentiation and low-cost might be helpful for firms to achieve a sustainable competitive advantage and claimed that Porter’s model was flawed because differentiation can be a means for firms to achieve low cost. Swedish educators Jonas Ridderstråle and Kjell Nordström, on the other hand, in their 1999 book Funky Business, follow a similar line of reasoning. They argue that ‘Competitive Strategy is the route to nowhere’ and that firms need to create ‘Sensational Strategies’ which is about playing a different game.
A similar strategy proposed by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne of INSEAD, is the ‘Blue Ocean Strategy’, which promotes creating ‘Blue Ocean’ or new market space rather than competing in an existing industry. It is in many ways similar to the ideas presented in Funky Business. For example, the ‘competing factors’ of the Blue Ocean Strategy are similar to the definition of ‘finite and infinite dimensions’ defined in Funky Business. Kim and Mauborgne claim that their strategy makes sense where supply exceeds demand. Once a blue ocean is created, it eventually turns ‘red’ over a period of time and ceases to guarantee success.
Red Ocean is the known market place (or industries), for which industry boundaries are defined and accepted, and the competitive rules of the game are known. Companies, here, try to outperform their rivals to grab a greater share of product or service demand. Profits and growth are reduced as the market space gets crowded. Products become commodities or niche with cutthroat competition turning the ocean red. Hence, the term red ocean gets coined. Blue oceans, in contrast, denote a non-existent industry or an unknown market space, where competition and demand is created rather than fought over. Competition, here, is irrelevant because the rules of the market are not set and there is ample opportunity for rapid growth and profitability. However, the corner-stone of Blue Ocean Strategy is ‘Value Innovation’, either in product, service or delivery, which creates value (not found in the current market) simultaneously for the buyer and the company.
I needed to explain the concept of ‘Blue Ocean Strategy’ in my class and was in search of some live examples that would demonstrate the above differences. With some search on the internet, I found many sites that explained the concept in detail but did not have examples. However, in the process I landed up in a website named www.ibscdc.org, where I got what I was looking for. The site contained quite a few case studies that demonstrated the concept with real life business examples. IBSCDC offered case studies like – Utility Computing: IBM On-demand, which demonstrated the introduction of a new concept called ‘utility computing’ in the IT industry by IBM; Toyota’s hybrid vehicles which helped in creation of a new market space for the company in the US; the case study of Tivo which pioneered the concept of interactive television and gave rise to a whole new industry.
However, the web site was easy to browse – across pages, with clear categorization of the case studies and tabs that took the user to the list of related case studies that the user needs. Moreover, a click on the title of the case study presented a well written abstract and other details needed by the user. It offers a huge collection of case studies related to various topics like business strategy, entrepreneurship, finance, economics, operations management, corporate governance, HR, organizational behavior, marketing, international trade, CSR, etc.