Nordstrom: Culture And Strategy

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Culture and strategy are two most critical buildings blocks for an organisation. It is like an engine and piston which has to run together for a smooth functioning.
There have been cases where the entire organisation was saved from bankruptcy as they had a very strong culture and at the same time, organisations were not able to transform to the new technology and environment due to a very resilient culture (Examples to follow).
Hence, in our understanding, strategy needs to be implemented utilising the strengths of culture for transformation or market penetration.
Examples of strong culture saving the organisation from bankruptcy:
1. Southwest Airlines – People are loyal to culture and not strategy. Southwest committed to the employees that
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Nordstrom – Fortune 100 Best Companies to work for – Organization Rule No: 1 – Use your best judgment at all times to provide excellent customer service. There are no other rules. This empowers the employees to provide best customer services. There has been instances where to cater to the customer’s requirements, if the product is not available, Nordstrom’s employees would try to find it with competitor or from different locations to get it delivered at customer’s place. It eventually helps them to build a very loyal customer base. This is the culture built in years at Nordstrom.
3. Zappos – An online retailer company which has built a business by providing amazing experience for the customers. Employees are nurtured in such a way that they go an extra mile to bring smile on their customer’s face. 75% of customers are repeat customers.
4. Toms Shoes – Every pair of shoes you buy, another pair gets donated to a child in need in developing world. It’s a culture which took years to build now loved by customers as well as investors and
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Any corporate strategy can be implemented only if it gets tuned according to the cultural strengths.
IBM: Who Says Elephants Can’t Dance? is a rare example of a fearless and visionary leader doing just that – changing culture and strategy simultaneously. After 1990, when IBM was going to be extinct, Lou Gerstner took over the company, re-defined the corporate strategies and brought back a collapsed organization back on track. He transformed the organization culture including the mission and vision of the company. He made an elephant dance. It takes a LOT of will, patience, and

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