Why company culture matters for strategic results – Donald Sull

Donald Sull, Senior Lecturer, MIT Sloan School of Management

From MIT Sloan Management Review

You don’t have to look far in the news headlines to find examples of how a good corporate culture can turbocharge performance, while a bad culture can wreak havoc on a company’s reputation and results.

Relying on culture — rather than detailed rules or micromanagement — to shape behavior provides employees the flexibility to seize unexpected opportunities, adapt to local circumstances, and respond quickly to shifting market conditions. Corporate culture, like an organization’s strategic priorities or objectives and key results, represents a powerful way to align behavior with a company’s strategy and mission while allowing employees to exercise judgment and initiative. Culture, in short, is critical to striking the balance between strategic alignment and organizational agility.

With the Culture 500 tool, managers and employees can explore how culture compares among more than 500 leading companies. For leaders, this interactive framework provides an actionable way to think about culture along nine key dimensions, to provide clarity on where companies are leading and lagging when it comes to aligning culture with strategic results.

Read the full post at MIT Sloan Management Review.

Donald Sull is a Senior Lecturer at the MIT Sloan School of Management and cofounder of CultureX.

In the age of online shopping, don’t count out brick-and-mortar stores – Sharmila Chatterjee

MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer Sharmila Chatterjee

Sharmila C. Chatterjee, Senior Lecturer, MIT Sloan School of Management

From USA Today

As the unofficial start to holiday shopping approaches, retail prognosticators are calling for a holly jolly season for e-commerce—and a less merry one for brick-and-mortar stores.

This year, for the first time, American consumers plan to do more of their holiday shopping online than in physical stores, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers. A Deloitte study predicts that customers will spend on average $879 online and $541 in shops.

Based on these forecasts, e-commerce appears in prime position to soon dominate the holiday retail landscape. We can kiss goodbye traditional stores. Right?

Not so fast. Brick-and-mortar stores are making a comeback. By focusing on customer service, integrated business models, and innovative partnerships, many chains — including Target, Kohl’s, Madewell and Best Buy — are likely to post strong holiday sales. Meanwhile, e-commerce may be in for a reckoning. Signs indicate that the lightning fast delivery speeds customers have come to expect from internet vendors, namely Amazon, are not sustainable.

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When was the last time you asked, “Why are we doing it this way?” — Hal Gregersen

Hal Gregersen, Executive Director of the MIT Leadership Center

Hal Gregersen, Executive Director of the MIT Leadership Center

From Harvard Business Review

During a time when many retailers are struggling, business is booming at Target. But it wasn’t too long ago that the discount retailer’s future didn’t glow so bright. When CEO Brian Cornell took the reins two years ago, he inherited a company that had been struggling for years, taking far too few risks, and sticking too close to the core.

Since then the world has fallen in love with a far edgier Target, which has expanded its offerings through collaborations with such power brands as Lilly Pulitzer, Toms, Neiman Marcus, and SoulCycle, and updated product lines that break the status quo, like its latest gender-neutral kids home brand Pillowfort. But Cornell didn’t start right out of the gate making any big changes like these. Instead, he took time to carefully contemplate his approach, listen to his team, and ask questions.

At the MIT Leadership Center, I recently spoke with another leader, Guy Wollaert, chief exploration officer at Loggia Strategy & Design, about similar experiences he encountered at another highly visible brand, Coca-Cola. During his 20-plus year tenure with the global beverage brand, most recently serving as its chief technical and innovation officer, Wollaert made it a point to seek — and surround himself with — new ideas and people who challenged him to reflect and question first, then act later.

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MIT Sloan Expert Series — The Business Case for Good Jobs — Zeynep Ton

Zeynep Ton, MIT Sloan Professor and author of The Good Jobs Strategy, took part in a live conversation on how operational excellence enables companies to offer low prices to customers while ensuring good jobs for their employees and superior results for their investors. Also appearing on the program were Thomas E. Perez, U.S. Secretary of Labor and James Sinegal, co-founder and former CEO of Costco. The Business Case for Good Jobs is a part of the MIT Sloan Expert Series.

Innovation thrives if investors aren’t companies’ only concern — Aleksandra Kacperczyk

MIT Sloan Professor Aleksandra Kacperczyk

MIT Sloan Professor Aleksandra Kacperczyk

From The Conversation

For firms to survive and thrive, innovation is crucial.

Innovative companies can respond to changes in today’s dynamic business environment. Countries and regions that are home to innovative companies tend to be prosperous.

While there is little debate about the importance of innovation to firms and economies, there is less agreement about how to promote it. An array of policies has been tried, from tax breaks to patent protection to restrictions on non-compete agreements.

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