Integrating Culture and Diversity in Decision Making Essay
Integrating Culture and Diversity in Decision Making
1. Provide a brief (1 paragraph) description of the organization you chose to research. Zappos was founded in 1999 during the dotcom boom by Nick Swinmurn [ (Twitchell, 2009) ] on a quest to buy a pair of sneakers at a local mall. It has grown in to a 1.2 billion dollar subsidiary of Amazon.com and a leading on-line provider of everything from shoes to couture handbags. They have done this with a simple motto: “Powered by Service”. Providing all of their customers with free (sometimes next day) shipping and returns, Zappos has invested in the power of word of mouth to fuel their business. 2. Examine the culture of the selected organization.
Retail doesn’t seem to be the only thing that Zappos has gotten right, however. Beyond growing from a small, upstart company to a 1 billion dollar “behemoth”, Zappos prides itself on the culture it has created and invests in for its employees. Unlike some companies that guard their employee credos and internal culture (Apple comes to mind), Zappos promotes theirs for any would-be customer to see. Multiple links on their website lead to testimonials, blogs and YouTube videos providing a behind the scenes look at exactly what it’s like to work for this Once Upon a Time shoe company. Current CEO Tony Hsieh said in 2009 while celebrating the company’s 10th anniversary that “Our No. 1 priority is the company culture. Our whole belief is that if we get the culture right, then everything else, including the customer service, will fall into place,” [ (Twitchell, 2009) ] and indeed that thought processes seems embedded in the company’s Core Values which are posted on its website under a link labeled “Our Unique Culture”. 3. Explain how you determined that the selected organization showed the signs of the culture that you have identified. Zappos company culture seems to pride itself on creating a world-class experience not just for its customers, but for its employees as well.
Both the external adaptation (day to day tasks) and internal integration (employees ability to live and work together) have been addressed in exactly the same way. Zappos seems to suggest that the way they treat their external customers as a company and the way their internal customers treat each other are not varied. In each of the videos posted on their company blog, employees regard their Core Values as both the way they guide their interactions with customers and with each other. Though subcultures do seem to exist (based simply on the variety of employee groups with blogs on their website), Zappos has taken great strides through rituals like their “Wishez” program to keep those unique subcultures from becoming countercultures that work against the common goals of the company. Indeed, relationships within these subcultures seem particularly strong. In one video describing the “Wishez” program and the way it bonds other departments together, employees seem to indicate that without it they might have never interacted in the first place.
This seems to lend itself to Barker and Tompkins theory that “employees [maintain] a tendency to identify more strongly with their individual work teams than with the company as a whole”. [ (Schrodt, 2002) ] In one video, an employee identifies that she has hired a marching band to come and play Happy Birthday for another employees 40th birthday because he had teased when she turned 40. They work in the same department. By forging such strong relationships between employees, members of Zappos are encouraged to pursue similar relationships with their customers. One web page boasts that the longest recorded customer service call to Zappos (lines which are open 24/7) was eight hours long. Additionally, during Holiday months, customers might even encounter CEO Tony Hsieh on the customer service lines. 4. Determine the factors that caused the organization to embody this particular culture.
This dedication towards customer service that the Zappos culture seems to be based around is what has allowed Zappos to survive where other dotcom’s had failed. In his book “The Greatest Business Decisions of All Time”, Verne Harnish lists Zappos’ decisions to offer free shipping and returns as particularly profound. He says (among the other decisions that he lists) that they “stood out from others because they were counterintuitive – they went against the grain of popular practice”. [ (Gringarten, 2012) ] Without this richly customer focused culture, Zappos as a brand might never have existed. Indeed, it continues to promote its customer focus and nothing else. While we might think of Zappos as a shoe company, Zappos seems to think of Zappos as a customer service company that happens to sell shoes. 5. Determine what type of leader would be best suited for this organization. Support your position.
This kind of energy takes a particular type of leader to induce. Each video on their company website that mentions CEO Tony Hsieh mentions his name with some sort of revere suggesting that this type of culture is best suited for a charismatic leader. According to Schermerhorn, charismatic leaders “by force of their personal abilities, are capable of having a profound and extraordinary effect on followers”. [ (Schermerhorn, 2000) ] Hsieh gives seminars in which he instructs other companies on how they can adopt the Zappos culture to their own businesses.
He believes very strongly in the culture that Zappos has created. 6. Imagine that there is a decline in the demand of product(s) or services supplied by the selected organization. Determine what the change in culture would need to be in response to this situation. The intense success that Zappos has enjoyed in such a short amount of time and the growth of their business from simply shoes to just about anything else seems to suggest that even if tomorrow people needed one less pair of shoes, the corporate culture of Zappos as a company would not need to be adjusted. By focusing on internal culture (employees) and external culture (customer) first, Zappos has answered the question of how to sell rather than what to sell. Their purpose implies that people don’t just need shoes; what they want is a different way to buy them.
Gringarten, H. (2012). The Greatest Business Decisions of all Time. Journal of Multidisciplinary Research , 95.
Schermerhorn, J. R. (2000). Organizational Behavior . New York: Wiley.
Schrodt, P. (2002). The relationship between organizational identification and organizational culture: employee perceptions of culture and identification in a retail sales organization. Communication Studies , 189.
Twitchell, J. (2009, June 16). From Upstart To $1 Billion Behemoth, Zappos Marks 10 Years. Retrieved from LasVegas Sun:
University/College: University of California
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 3 June 2017
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