"A vision not consistent with values that people live by day by day will not only fail to inspire genuine enthusiasm, it will often foster outright cynicism."
Peter M. Senge
Every organization has its own culture, which can be manifested in a number of ways. It can be seen as a collection of norms, systems, and practices that a company imposes on its employees. Culture can also de defined as "the values of the company in action." Culture establishes company boundaries for what is considered acceptable or unacceptable, right or wrong, appropriate or inappropriate. Culture teaches employees what is valued or disregarded, what is rewarded or punished. Culture becomes a major determinant for shaping the behaviors and performance of company leaders and employees alike.
An organization's culture can hinder or facilitate the accomplishment of its goals and objectives. The key to sustaining competitive advantage is establishing a work environment where culture matches well with the conditions for good strategy formulation and implementation — and is in concert with the expectations of the company's many stakeholders (see our Enterprise Model to better understand the relationships among stakeholders).
Culture by itself is not a bottom-line commodity. You won't see it itemized on the balance sheet. But research suggests that a company with a healthy, adaptive culture will generally outperform a company with an unhealthy, rigid culture, sometimes in dramatic fashion. Companies with strategically conducive cultures stand a better chance of achieving their goals, so Catalyst has developed what we call our Organizations that Work™ series. Since helping you achieve success and create substantial and lasting value is our mission — and since a dysfunctional company culture can derail even the most concerted performance improvement efforts (we've seen it happen too many times) — we employ sophisticated tools and methodologies that can accurately assess your organization's current culture. We can then help you contrast "where you are" as an organization with "where you need to be" to accomplish your strategic and growth objectives.
Are cultural issues and internal conflicts holding you back? Contact us today to see how we can help you better understand your current culture and its impact on performance — and how to synchronize culture with your company's aspirations and expectations. Or take a look at the many workshops and seminars that we offer that can jumpstart your organization's performance.
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A Special Case: Mergers and Acquisitions
The combining of business entities through mergers and acquisitions (M & A) is on the rise again after several years of only modest activity. This is good news for companies looking to follow an acquisitive growth strategy, as well as companies that are looking for partners to help them grow. The bad news is that most mergers and acquisitions fail to create any real value for shareholders.
Decades of corporate experience coupled with extensive academic research from as far back as the 1960s indicate that the majority of business "marriages" actually destroy shareholder value. The 1999 KPMG research report that yielded the data shown here confirms this long-running trend.
If you are contemplating an acquisition, or you are struggling to integrate an acquisition that you've already made, Catalyst can help you join the 17% minority that create value through M & A activity. We can serve as your objective, outside "integration manager" — able to jump into complex situations quickly, relate to many levels of authority smoothly, and bridge gaps in culture and perception across functions and business units. We can even help you assess the capabilities of the leadership team and employees of your new partner.
Contact us today to explore how we can help you ensure the success of your next acquisition (or help you pick up the pieces of a troubled integration effort).