Monday, January 4, 2010

Corporate Culture for Sale, by Owner

I just read an interesting article in the January 11, 2010 Businessweek, titled, "Zappos Retails its Culture."  Of course, that got my attention. 

I am very skeptical on how you can sell workshops and seminars on how to recreate the Zappos culture.  I believe you can share the methodology, values, mission, vision and even the model.  But, it is up to the individuals contributing and delivering on all those elements that creates the culture.  Just like Disney selling its management and leadership courses, hoping to spread "magic" to other businesses.   You can get the methodology but it really takes the dedication, motivation and engagement of your own unique work force to create a culture that is truly unique.

Now if I can figure out how to recreate an engaged and motivated workforce, then I believe I could retire on some very beautiful exotic island. 

The CEO of Zappos, Tony Hsieh, made the excellent point in the article regarding hiring the right people to begin with.  In regards to hiring $11/hour customers service reps, Hsieh believes that the most productive employees work for the psychic gratification in helping others.  He gives the service reps a lot of freedom to satisfy customers which in turns leads to job satisfaction and high engagement for those individuals.

So, this model of understanding what motivates your customer facing staff (and all staff) is a excellent one.  But will paying your service reps $11/hour and giving them carte blanche to satisfy your customers work for you as well???

I think that answer depends. 

It depends on if that type of reward and empowerment model aligns with your organizational strategy and that strategy is easily understood and communicated to everyone delivering on that strategy.  So, I think that another company's culture is very hard to RECREATE but perhaps the process for aligning culture to strategy is something that may be shared and tweaked.  The delivery and execution is where customization is needed based on your company, your industry, your workforce, and your strategy. 

I believe we are not talking about RECREATING a culture but CREATING your own based on tried and true methods...

Good for Zappos for creating another valuable revenue stream....and for sharing that to other businesses.  They must have something least Amazon thought so! 

What are your thoughts on culture creation???
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