Entries in organizational culture (33)


Cadbury and culture

In the wake of its acquisition of Cadbury, Mondelez is reportedly investing millions to update the production capabilities at the historic Cadbury Bournville plant. In concert with the facilities upgrades, the company is also making changes to its workforce, through incentivized redundancies and expanded training.

These moves are generating attention, and apparent conflict. Union documents accuse Mondelez of attempting to "smash" the storied Cadbury culture, which Kraft/Mondelez had pledged to protect when the acquisition was being scrutinized by the British government several years ago. Among other things, the union claims experienced employees are being "forced" out, while the parent company brings inexperienced and (anti-union) contract workers.

And this week a training needs analysis is making headlines for specifying 30 types of unacceptable behavior, including "poor use of language" and "closed minds." It is interesting that while the areas of training analysis Mondelez is reportedly assessing largely align with accepted standards, the way it has framed the questions casts each area from a negative perspective, which may be contributing to the backlash.

Workforce training is an essential element for employers and employees alike, and it should be a positive one. Though as the reports out of the UK demonstrate, the the approach should be well thought out before implemented. Similarly, restructuring is an inevitable reality for any large business keeping pace with changing markets, though how short-term decisions are made and the changes are executed can have a lasting impact on corporate culture.

In any event, the ongoing transition at Cadbury remains an interesting case study in acquisition integration and change management.

Image source: Financial Times

-- Jay Jakub


Google moonshots, revisited

We recently posted about Astro Teller, the director of Google's long-term innovation lab known as Google X. Mystery PR may be priceless for tech companies -- and Google X has solid mystery credentials -- but this look at the division and its process from Fast Company last year delves a bit deeper into the team's innovation process and failure metric.

It also sets out the three overarching requirements for all Google X projects:

  1. All must address a problem that affects millions—or better yet, billions—of people.
  2. All must utilize a radical solution that has at least a component that resembles science fiction.
  3. And all must tap technologies that are now (or very nearly) obtainable.

The most interesting insight in the piece may be this: "Google X, as Teller describes it, is an experiment in itself—an effort to reconfigure the process by which a corporate lab functions."

-- Bojan Angelov


Catalyst Content Briefing

In this week's look at what else is new and interesting: » MUTUALITY LAB • Developing external knowledge sources and the importance of internal connections • The effect of population decline on the economy and the labor force » CULTURE LAB • A performance culture does not necessarily drive strategy execution • Developing and nurturing a successful intrapreneurship process » DEMAND LAB • Facebook develops tool allowing advertisers to monitor, determine relevance of ads • Marketers take notice of sensory-based marketing

Click to read more ...


Can you have too much team cohesion?

A recent study out of Ryerson University questions the conventional wisdom that the performance of workplace teams always increases as their social bonds grow. Instead, the relationship between team cohesion and performance looks more like a classic bell curve -- rising significantly at first, but peaking at a certain point and declining beyond that.

One reason for the previously undocumented decline in performance at the far end of the spectrum could be that "groupthink" hampers innovation and dampens a team's urge to challenge the status quo, according to an article in Strategy+Business. The risk of teams aligning their analysis with senior leaders has been explored in the past, but those posed by intra-team social ties less so.

There are benefits to team cohesion, including higher levels of job satisfaction, fewer conflicts, and less turnover, but the implications of the study seem to be that a balancing act is required. Team leaders and managers should try to find that optimal level of social ties that promote high performance, and to monitor and make adjustments if the risk of stagnation and groupthink starts to grow.


Image: Example team connection maps. Source: Baylor University

-- Segundo Saenz, Bojan Angelov


Entrepreneurship and growth

Growth is change. If organizations and cultures often resist change, this can impact the prospects for corporate growth initiatives. A recent BCG paper on "Organizing for Growth" examines this dilemma from the perspective of leadership and makes recommendations to improve the odds of success.

We enjoyed the authors' attention to the roles internal entrepreneurship and culture play in generating growth. New growth can require leaders with a different style--leaders who are more adaptive and agile--to the ones running the core business. Yet it is not enough to parachute new entrepreneur into a system that might impede their progress.

Culture is not an afterthought, and it is not easily changed. The BCG recommendations include meshing new approaches into existing practices, paying particular attention to organizational design in the process. Easier said than done? The authors' agree that it's hard work, but worth the effort. What do you think?

Image source: BCG

-- Bruno Roche


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