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Culture Change at Work: How to Stay Ahead of The Trend

Dr. Greg Ketchum, 01/28/06

Big changes continue to hit the US auto industry hard with Ford Motor Company’s announcement last week of a major restructuring plan that involves cutting 34,000 jobs and closing 14 factories in the US. This comes on top of GM’s announcement last month that it plans to cut about that same number of jobs.

Now this is a huge story, not only for those directly impacted by the changes at Ford, but for every working American and here’s why. Culture change. That’s right. A key element of Ford’s turnaround plan that isn’t getting as much press as the layoffs and plant closings is changing the company culture at Ford.

To see what I mean take a look at this quote from Chairman Bill Ford on the “cultural revolution” underway at Ford.

"…we will not stand for: incremental change, avoiding risk, thinking short-term, blocking innovation, tying our people's hands, defending procedures that don't make sense and selling what we have instead of what the customer wants. In short, we will not stand for business as usual."

Many American companies, like Ford, are realizing that without changing their company culture no amount of restructuring or job cutting will keep them competitive. In fact, many corporate turnarounds fail for this very reason.

Culture: What’s Out and What’s In

  1. Out: Top down management, bureaucratic, cautious and highly political cultures.
  2. In: Nimble, change friendly, innovative, empowering and low political cultures.

Corporate culture change is here to stay and the key for you and me is developing the skills that the new corporate cultures prize. For starters, here are 3 of them.

How to Stay Ahead of the Culture Changes in American Companies

  1. Take the Initiative: Seize opportunities, make things happen, & show leadership rather than waiting for others to show you the way.
  2. Risk Taker: Be able to take reasonable risks not chances.
  3. Be Authentic: Able to be real, deal with failure & mistakes, & no BS.

Finally, the most important of all these skills is that ability to be authentic. We all admire and trust people who are able to be real with us. After all you know what they say, “Reality. It’s a trip.”  

For more information and a list of references go to talentplanet.com and click on Dr. Greg. Have a great morning.


®2006 Gregory A. Ketchum, Ph.D. All rights reserved.

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Dr. Greg is the “KRON 4 (San Francisco) Workplace and Career Expert”

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