Respect Open Culture

6 case studies of organizations that moved to a more open culture and way of doing business.Screen Shot 2015-09-13 at 2.55.05 pm

  • State Bank of India (SBI). The State Bank of India is the second largest bank in the world and as a government owned entity, employees are given guaranteed employment for life. In 2006, Chairman Om Bhatt realized that the organization had several problems. He launched a program to transform the bank with open information sharing and distributed decision making. For this transformation to be successful, Bhatt realized that each employee would have to have a sense of empowerment they had never had before. Impressive changes in employee attitudes and business results occurred, due to Bhatt’s use of open leadership. He clearly explained the challenge facing the bank and the way forward.
  • Cisco. John Chambers has made collaboration and distributed decision making central to Cisco’s operations. To create a new culture, he realized that a new reward system needed to be tied to the behavior he wanted to promote. This was accomplished by establishing shared goals. In addition, Chambers put in place the structure and discipline needed to be collaborative. The culture of collaboration is slowly trickling down through the employee ranks. The change process can take time and patience. Since any transformation takes a long time, Li believes that companies must find the unique formula of push and pull that works for their organizations.
  • Best Buy. At Best Buy, the culture is entrepreneurial and based on employee-led innovation. However, significant barriers stood in the way of employees being more open. Friction in the system prevented people from taking the necessary initiative. As a result, Michele Azar created a plan to systematically address each of the obstacles. As employees saw colleagues engaged in open dialog with senior executives, employees overcame their hesitancy to engage. Azar also put data and technology close to where people could actually use them. To overcome the fear of failure, the company created a system in which experiments were created and tested, and feedback was given quickly.
  • Procter & Gamble. At the beginning of 2000, Procter & Gamble was struggling. To repair the company’s innovation engine, A.G. Lafley put the consumer at the center of company activities. He also opened P&G up to outside ideas by implementing the Connect + Develop program. The challenge was to move the company from a “not invented here” mindset to a “proudly found elsewhere” mindset. On the Connect + Develop web site, there are opportunities for people to submit ideas and a “needs list” of innovations that P&G is looking for. To date, there are about one thousand licensing deals in place.
  • Dell. In January 2007, Michael Dell returned to the CEO position and refocused the company on engaging directly with customers. He pushed for IdeaStorm, a site where people can submit, vote, and comment on ideas for Dell to adopt. The team at Dell ensured that systems and structures were in place to sustain and spread openness throughout the organization. Although transformation at Dell was jarring at the beginning, it improved over time, due to the leadership team’s ability to leverage deep seated values of connecting directly with customers.
  • U.S. Department of State. The State Department is using openness in pursuit of its Public Diplomacy mission. The Department created a Social Media Field Guide for Facebook pages, making it easy for embassies to create their own pages that comply with all policy and legal issues. With guidelines and training in place, staff are trusted to develop the relationships they think are best suited to achieve their diplomatic goals. They are changing the relationships with local people and creating greater trust and transparency.

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