Lessons learned from GM… and not learned

by admin on June 2, 2009

Interesting op-ed article from the NY times that essentially says the problem with GM is the culture. To summarize briefly (but you should read the article), it concludes that the government takeover of GM will entrench the culture that doomed GM in the first place. So expect more of the same.

I can believe this. Culture is everything in a large company. Before Creo became CreoScitex, the culture of that company was the focus and obsession of everybody who worked there, from the CEO down to the most junior field rep. Every employee was expected at one point or another, sooner rather than later, to drink the Kool-Aid and bleed cyan.

After the merger with Scitex, there was much distress over the "dilution" of culture. There was a feeling we had lost our edge. After the takeover by Kodak (which I was not around to witness) and innumerable rounds of layoffs, the culture was diluted even more. 

Interestingly, two of the most successful American companies of the '00 decade are Apple and Google that by the way, do have unique and distinctive cultures. Microsoft was famed for having an aggressive take-no-prisoners culture in the 1990s before anti-trust (and the internet) dulled its edge.

So what about the printing industry. You tell me. Do you work for a company that takes pride in its culture? I remember Quad Graphics used to be like that, don't know if its changed or not. RR Donnelly used to have high espirit du corps before they abolish their R & D centers, although the fact that they are introducing their own inkjet technology says something.

I wonder what the culture of Vistaprint is like.


Michael J June 3, 2009 at 3:28 am

great post. My bet is that the culture of Vista is about marketing, marketing, marketing. Given what I’ve read and seen it’s not a pretty site.

I think the way it works is the top power people are focused on X. Then all the second level people work to stay on the good side of the top people. And it works it’s way through the whole outfit.

If Kodak can spin off the Creo dna I think it will still do great. If they don’t they’re toast. In my not so humble opinion.

FubarGuy June 3, 2009 at 8:52 am

Worse than having no “company culture” what used to exist here has been overshadowed by the purchasing company’s version. That is, what used to be a tight-knit family shop has become the redheaded stepchild, and through layoffs & attrition it’s now just a building to come to for 8-10 hours a day, with no real sense of purpose or incentive to excel.

I have to wonder if there are any shops left in the industry that have that kind of devotion & reward remaining. The whole thing seems to be devouring itself as the Big Guys consume the Small Guys and the workers are left to simply be thankful there’s a paycheck at all. Damn, this is downright depressing!

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