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Ducks in a Row: Cultural Change by Edict

by Miki Saxon

http://www.flickr.com/photos/78428166@N00/7395002760/I’ve written many times about the importance of breaking down both horizontal and vertical silos (for more click the silo tag), but I don’t believe it can be done with an edict—even if that edict comes from Steve Ballmer.

This is especially true at a company like Microsoft, where the silos were intentionally built decades ago as part of the corporate structure.

Vertical silos, by nature, create, at the least, rivalry, but, more often, an “us against them” mentality within each silo.

For thousands of Microsofties, that’s the only cultural world they have known; many of them grew up in it, both in terms of years and promotions.

Changing culture is recognized as the most difficult organizational change any company, no matter the size, can undertake.

And one of the greatest error’s a CEO makes is thinking that all he needs on board is his senior staff the rest of people will fall in line.

For most companies, let alone one the size of Microsoft, terminating managers and workers that don’t fall in line isn’t even an option, since there is no way to replace them.

Yet having large numbers of your workforce on different cultural pages is a recipe for disaster.

The results of Ballmer’s changes will unfold over the next couple of years—in spite of Wall Street’s quarterly focus.

Changing culture is tremendously difficult; Charlie Brown didn’t pull it off at AT&T; Lou Gerstner said it was the most difficult part of turning around IBM.

Do you think Ballmer will succeed?

Flickr image credit: Tobyotter

4 Responses to “Ducks in a Row: Cultural Change by Edict”
  1. MAPping Company Success Says:

    […] announced its much ballyhooed new strategy and resulting management changes I commented that you can’t change culture, especially an intentionally siloed culture, by […]

  2. MAPping Company Success Says:

    […] believes that a deeply entrenched culture can be changed by edict and apparently Page does, […]

  3. MAPping Company Success Says:

    […] didn’t follow him closely, but based on what I read/heard he seemed opaque, bombastic, prone to management by edict and incredibly […]

  4. MAPping Company Success Says:

    […] But if there is anything to be learned from companies like Microsoft it’s that cultural change doesn’t come from the outside nor is it changed by edict. […]

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