4-1 Discussion: Zappos: A Unique Company Culture

Notes: Guidance for writing discussion.

Learning Objectives
• Evaluate the dynamics, creation, and maintenance of organizational culture
• Analyze the impact that organizational structure has on the culture of a company
• Assess how organizational structure impacts the change process in a company
Reading and Resources
Textbook: Principles of Management, Chapters 7, and 8

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Chapter 7: Organizational Structure and Change
This chapter describes how the organizational structure influences employees and helps to achieve the goals and objectives. This chapter also examines why organizations change, and the impact that change has on employees.

Chapter 8: Organizational Culture
This chapter examines organizational culture and explains how culture influences the behavior, actions, and values within an organization.
In Module Three students were introduced to strategic management and goals and objectives which wrapped up the planning facet of the P-O-L-C framework. The important takeaway from the last two modules is understanding the relationship and dynamics of the mission, vision, strategy, and goals and objectives. The planning facet serves as the foundation of the P-O-L-C framework, and it is where the strategy is formulated. As students move into Module Four, the focus will switch to the organizing facet of the P-O-L-C framework, as students will examine the impact of the organizational structure, change, and culture.

In Module Four, the primary focus will be on organizational structure and change as well as organizational culture, which are important elements in the organizing facet of the P-OL-C framework. This module will focus on organizational dynamics, which influence people’s behaviors and actions as they strive to meet the organizational goals and objectives to effectively implement the strategy.
When people think about organizational structure, they often think about the hierarchy chart within an organization that explains the reporting structure or how the organization is designed from a divisional or department standpoint. These are important functions of the organizational structure as they provide a channel of communication and, in essence, establish some boundaries in terms of roles and responsibilities within an organization. Establishing policies and procedures helps to create a more robust organizational structure, which can help provide direction for employees and for the organization. However, organizations must also acknowledge that they need to remain flexible and not become too rigid with formalization because this can also lead to a lack of innovation and can slow down progress. We have all heard the term “too much red tape.”
Change is inevitable and this is certainly true in organizations. Organizations need to adapt, and they need to improve if they want to remain relevant and competitive. Managers should employ a continuous improvement mentality, which consistently seeks to promote and improve processes within their organization. This is a necessary function of management, and today’s business world is seeking managers with the ability and skills to foster change. With that said, change does not come easy for some people and people will resist change. Managers must have the ability to effectively communicate the change process within their 2 OL 215 Module Four organizations and employ certain techniques to provide support for employees, empower employees to change, and demonstrate the benefit of change. Organizations that refuse to change or are slow to react will often find themselves being passed by their competition. In this module, you will watch two videos about change and have the opportunity to reflect on their own experience with change and on how management helped or hindered this process.
What exactly is organizational culture? Culture is not tangible, but culture provides an environment that influences employees’ actions and behaviors, which impact the organization’s performance. According to Carpenter, Bauer, Erdogan, and Short (2013), “An organization’s culture may be one of its strongest assets or its biggest liability” (p. 202). Organizational culture is a powerful entity in any organization. Having a strong culture can create a competitive advantage while having a poor culture can lead to an unsuccessful company. This is evident in the following statement, by Lussier (1999):
A culture of success changes over time, and businesses that fail to change their culture lose competitive advantage. Three organizations that have already tried, but failed, at major change efforts include General Motors, IBM, and Sears. Part of their lack of success came from not dealing effectively with cultural and behavioral obstacles and resistance to change. (p. 398) Within this module, students will have an opportunity to view the unique culture within Zappos and discuss how organizational culture impacts employees and the overall organization.
Carpenter, M., Bauer, T., Erdogan, B. & Short, J. (2013). Principles of management (Version 2.0). Washington, DC: Flat World Knowledge, Inc.
Lussier, R. N. (1999). Human relations in organizations: Applications and skill-building (4th ed.). Boston, MA: Irwin McGraw-Hill.

OL-215: Igniting Creativity to Transform Corporate Culture: Catherine Courage at TEDxKyoto 2012 (CC). (YouTube Video)
OL-215 Zappos Company Culture CC (YouTube Video)

4-1 Discussion: Zappos: A Unique Company Culture

First, watch Igniting Creativity to Transform Corporate Culture. This TED Talk by Catherine Courage examines how creativity needs to be infused into the organizational culture to foster innovation and to challenge the status quo. Next, watch this Zappos Company Culture video. As you watch the videos, think about the various elements of effective organizational structure. In your initial post, answer the following questions:
• Do you think the unique culture of Zappos will help or hurt the company in the long run? Explain and provide specific examples, where applicable.
• Do you think more companies in the future will follow this model? Why or why not?
• In your opinion, what company today could benefit from this unique strategy? Explain your rationale.
In responding to your peers, comment on the impact that organizational structure has on a company like Zappos. What dynamics are involved? Think about places where you have worked and how the culture impacted you.
To complete this assignment, review the Discussion Rubric document.

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