THE CULTURAL WEB BEFORE HOWARD STRINGER Organizational culture sometimes influences the organizations strategy if taken for granted. Culture has played a role in Sony’s current financial difficulties. They had power blocks which hindered the flow of communication and corporation between the management, designers, production and marketing. The Cultural Web, developed by Gerry Johnson and Kevan Scholes in 1992, provides one such approach for looking at and changing your organization’s culture.
Using it, you can expose cultural assumptions and practices, and set to work aligning organizational elements with one another, and with your strategy. The Cultural Web identifies six interrelated elements that help to make up what Johnson and Scholes call the “paradigm” – the pattern or model – of the work environment. By analyzing the factors in each, you can begin to see the bigger picture of your culture: what is working, what isn’t working, and what needs to be changed. The six elements are:
Power Structures: Sony had a culture, were long serving executives have very strong influence on the organization. At their annual general meetings all these executives take up the front seats whiles the lower ranks are relegated to the back. Many of the working seniors did not even discuss their share values and did not have the involvement in the business. Control Systems: Sony emphasized on budget plans and emergency fixes as their main control systems. Quality was not really emphasized, they believed in getting the work done with the least amount of cost.
Lower level staffs were not awarded for their achievements or bonuses given at the end of the year. All these were aimed at controlling cost. Organizational Structure: They had the functional/Transnational type of organization where the CEO sits at the top and all functional heads report to him. They believe in top management taking all the decisions without the involvement of the junior level engineers. These caused lack of communication and co-operation between the various units and more of delegation to get the problem solved.
Stories: Sony had gone through continuous restructuring for the past 9 years to improve their financial positions. Sony was not customer focused. They did not invest in non-core businesses and lacked new-age products even though they had very good and talented engineers. Although Sony believed in harmony of the people and the company but with all this restructuring the morale of the employees was down and this was evident when there was a comment that there is sparkle in the eyes of the employees after Howard Stringer took over.
Rituals & Routines: As per the Japanese culture of respect Sony had a ritual that it never fired its high rank executives even after retiring. The senior managers were made “Advisor” (Gunther, 2006) and each of them had their own secretary, a car and driver and they also had the authority to second-question people who were actually working at Sony. At Sony the ritual was that if an engineer came to know about a fault in the product they would let the seniors know they would just fix the problem and just do it. Thus seniors were not involved in the business
Symbols: There was a symbol of seniority when the company never really retired its senior managers and also in the fact that during annual meetings the seniors would be given the preferred and best seats in the hall while the others were given uncomfortable seats to symbolize the importance that Sony gave to its senior managers. To create the harmony they want and give employees a range of different health and wellness programs. Some of those (as taken from the Sony Site) are as below: 1. They provided On-site fitness centers 2. On-site flu shots 3.
On-site cafeterias 4. Wellness fairs 5. 100% medical and dental plans 6. Health risk assessments 7. Gym discounts 8. Stop Smoking programs 9. Nutrition information Figure 7- Cultural Web before Howard Stringer became CEO of Sony Global Sony Corporation mainly focused on giving the best environment to its employees especially its engineers who were the minds behind the innovations. A high level of respect was kept between the senior and junior employees in the company. Various Health and wellness programs and benefits were available for employees.
Sony was an engineer-driven culture which put what the engineers thought and innovated before what the customers wanted or what the market demanded. THE CULTURAL WEB AFTER HOWARD STRINGER Power Structures: Howard was made the new CEO thus giving power of the company to him. He was able to make changes but very smartly Howard made Chubachi his right hand man since he was aware that he was the first non-Japanese CEO of the company. His power can be seen in the fact that Howard is now President of Sony in 2009. Control Systems: There was a more cost control in the company through reduction of employees in many of the sites.
Manufacturing companies were consolidated and shut down in many areas. Rewards and bonuses based on group performance (not seniority) after Howard Stringer had taken over. Organizational Structure: With the structural changes that Howard had made to the company Sony had a flatter structure. Management was made to be more involved in each of the business units of the company. There was more responsibility given to senior and middle management. Stories: As per Chubachi, it was said that since Sir Howard had taken over “there was a sparkle in the eyes of the employees”. The over all morale of the company was better.
After Howard came people were still not sure if they knew where they were leading to but they understood the company strategy which was to make the company cool again. People were more excited. Rituals & Routines: After Howard came he dissolved the advisory board that consisted of 45 senior mangers who had a say in the company even after they had retired. Main customer who had used Sony products for a long time where now giving their inputs on the Sony products. Engineers were given more appreciations. Success was being celebrated through Award ceremonies, Christmas parties, training programs and knowledge sharing sessions.
Symbols: After Howard came he dissolved the advisory board that consisted of 45 senior managers who had a say in the company even after they had retired. Each of them had a secretary, a car and driver and probably many other benefits. The gap between the senior management and the juniors was being reduced. Figure 8- Cultural Web after Howard Stringer became CEO of Sony Global From the above cultural web we can see that Sony did not undergo major paradigm changes but did move from a transnational structure to a multi-divisional (Electronic department was a matrix) structure.
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