2 Section 5: Complementary Examples

From Will Plaisted (Winter Term, 2021):

The Organization

The organization I chose for this assignment is a financial and investing company, “The Motley Fool”. The company is based out of Virginia and has been around since 1993. The CEO since its inception has been Tom Gardner. The Motley Fool recognizes the importance of a healthy lifestyle and has made strides in getting employees to have fun while being active.

The Organizational Culture

The Motley Fool hired a “chief wellness fool” to lead the way in this cultural advancement. Sam Whiteside has been developing new fitness challenges for employees to have fun and be healthy. For instance, Whiteside came up with the challenge of making at least one meeting per day an “active” one. This could be employees doing pushups during the meeting or running in place. This creates a positive work culture and promotes healthy living.

Impact Created

Having fitness challenges for team members creates fun and new opportunities that separate Motley Fool from like-minded organizations. “The importance of wellness is top of mind for many organizations, but what really sets this strategy apart is an understanding that employees need to be challenged in new and different ways, both for fun and professionally” (Zurek, 2020).

Success can be determined and measured by the overall change in mood and attitude from team members. Now, employees can raise endorphin levels while working, and exercise could even unlock certain creative parts of the brain that otherwise would have never been discovered. People who typically sit at a desk all day have low energy levels and typically live a sedentary lifestyle. Motley Fool has found a way to break that stereotype and offer their team a new way of working.

Connection to Course Concepts

Based on our textbook’s explanation of organizational culture and the 4 levels involved, I would say the Motley Fool has a discursive culture. They pride themselves on their values and are excited about making positive changes and aren’t resistant toward them. These healthy changes are not forced onto team members but are strongly encouraged. Most team members who aren’t interested will get tired of their co-workers nagging them to join in and may psychologically feel inclined to join in on the fun, but it certainly shouldn’t be a requirement.

Internal factors such as the employees, the leaders, proper support, resources and technology, and understanding the nature of their business are all essential in order for this cultural change to be effective. External factors do not matter as much in this case since external parties are irrelevant.

Future Implications

Having a healthier team of employees is on the top of the to-do list for many organizations. Once information about these health challenges are well known, other organizations will set their minds to something similar and come up with their own creative take on this culture change. This will promote health across the world and will take what was once thought of as a sedentary job and turn it into an active, exhilarating one.

References

Studies, G. (2021). 5.4 Internal Factors of Organizational Culture. Granite.pressbooks.pub. Retrieved 15 February 2021, from https://granite.pressbooks.pub/mgmt805/chapter/internal-factors-of-organizational-culture/.

Zurek, C. (2020). 5 Big-Name Organizational Culture Examples That Win the Talent War | ITA Group. Itagroup.com. Retrieved 15 February 2021, from https://www.itagroup.com/insights/organizational-culture-examples-win-talent-war.

The Motley Fool. The Motley Fool. (2018). Retrieved 15 February 2021, from https://www.fool.com/.


From Michael St. Onge (Winter Term, 2021):

The Organization

Gone are the days of pouring over the help wanted sections of your local newspaper to search for a job. The internet has changed how we access potential employment and employee information. Indeed (Indeed.com) is one such company that has changed how we search for companies and how companies search for us.

Headquartered in Connecticut and Texas Indeed employs over 10,000 people globally, (Indeed.com/about,n.d.). “By many measures, Indeed represents the No. 1 job search site in the world. More than 200 million people visit indeed.com every month, conducting more than 1 billion job searches, according to company data”, (Schott, 2017, para.6). To fulfill its mission, “to help people get jobs” (Indeed.com/about, n.d.), Indeed relies on its dedicated workforce that calls themselves Indeedians (Indeed.jobs, n.d.).

The Organizational Culture

Indeed.com not only helps people find jobs but also hires people to work for them. When you navigate to the section of their website devoted to their hiring needs, the first thing you see is a statement about inclusion. Specifically, they state “Our mission is to create products that provide opportunities for all job seekers. To do this, we hire Indeedians of all backgrounds to mirror the job seekers we support. That’s why Inclusion and Belonging are core values inside Indeed”, (Indeed.jobs, n.d.). They set the tone for their culture immediately, one of acceptance, inclusion, and belonging.

Indeed.com devotes a page to Mission, Benefits, and Work Culture (indeed.com/cmp/Indeed/about, n.d.). The company is very transparent as here you can find reviews from current and former employees about working at Indeed. They post the good and the bad. There is a section on salary which shows the average salary for different positions at Indeed. They have a section that discusses the benefits that their employees enjoy, they encourage employees to post to Instagram using #insideindeed and they have a podcast on Soundcloud called Culture Matters.

“Indeed, the world’s largest jobs site has made great strides to promote positive company culture. As a leader in delivering accurate information about companies, Austin-based Indeed has extra incentive to be transparent about its own workplace values”, (Ludwig, 2020, para.5). The culture at Indeed is driven by the mission to help people get jobs. The foundation of that mission is a core value they call Job Seeker First. Everything they do is geared for the benefit of a job seeker. In all of their conference rooms, they have an empty orange chair. This symbolic chair is to remind them that in whatever they do, the job seeker gets a seat at the table.,(Inside Indeed, 2020).

Impact Created

The impact of Indeed’s organizational culture can be measured by external and internal metrics. Externally, Indeed boasts of being the #1 job search site in the world with over 250 million unique monthly visitors, 175 million resumes, 320 million ratings and reviews, 10 jobs added per second globally and 750 million salaries, (Indeed.com/about, n.d.). It’s clear that their workforce of 10,000 employees all rallies around the company’s mission to create the best experience possible for an online job seeker. A toxic culture would not have allowed for the organization to grow as successfully as it has for as long as it has.

Internal metrics come straight from Indeed’s website. As mentioned previously, Indeed devotes a page to Mission, Benefits, and Work Culture. On that page is a place for employees to leave reviews and rate the company on 5 different criteria using a 5-star scale.

The criteria and ratings, taken from indeed.com/cmp/Indeed/about, (n.d.) are as follows:

  • work-life balance 4.4 stars
  • pay & benefits 4.3 stars
  • job security & advancement 3.9 stars
  • management 3.9 stars
  • culture 4.4 stars

The average star ratings are based on 741 reviews and Indeed posts all of them, whether good or bad. Indeed will show the first few reviews completely. To access all the reviews, you have to sign up and be willing to rate your current employer. This information is important to Indeed because it allows them to provide more information to job seekers, and one of their value statements is Job Seekers First.

Connection to Course Concepts

Indeed fosters an organizational culture built on trust, communication, and transparency. They start with a simple mission statement and 5 values to support the mission. Indeed is extremely transparent. On their website, you can see details about compensation, health benefits, and perks that you would not normally learn about until late in an interview process. But, Indeed puts it out there for all to see. There is an abundance of information on their website about what is important to the company and to the employees. It would be very easy to determine if you would be comfortable working in that culture.

A measure of how trust factors into their culture is their policy of unlimited paid time off. An employee can take as much time off as they want, whenever they want, so long as it does not negatively impact their work. Communication is two-way and highly encouraged. “The office encourages collaboration and teamwork, to ensure everyone is sharing ideas and working together towards the same mission. I’ve always felt like I can speak up and my thoughts/ideas are heard and addressed”, (Bastone, 2018, para. 5).

Future Implications

I think other organizations can learn from Indeed’s honesty and transparency. Indeed is very open about their pay and benefits and about what current and former employees have to say about the company. I am certain that this helps to ensure that the “right” people who will “fit” into their culture apply for jobs at Indeed. Those who don’t like the benefits or pay comments from other employees won’t waste their time or Indeed’s time.

References

Bastone, N. (2018, December 30). The 29 tech companies with the best company culture in 2018. Business Insider. https://www.businessinsider.com/best-company-culture-2018-full-list-2018-12#28-indeedcom-2

Indeed mission, benefits, and work culture | Indeed.com. (n.d.). Job Search | Indeed. Retrieved February 19, 2021, from https://www.indeed.com/cmp/Indeed/about

Indeed.com/about. (n.d.). About indeed. Job Search | Indeed. Retrieved February 18, 2021, from https://www.indeed.com/about

Indeed.jobs. (n.d.). Find jobs – External careers. Retrieved February 18, 2021, from https://www.indeed.jobs/

Inside Indeed. (2020, October 19). 5 core values that guide us inside indeed. Inside Indeed Blog | Learn about life inside Indeed. https://inside.indeed.jobs/5-values-that-helped-indeed-become-the-worlds-1-job-site/

Ludwig, S. (2020, January 3). 6 companies with great workplace culture. https://www.uschamber.com/co. https://www.uschamber.com/co/start/strategy/companies-with-great-culture

Schott, P. (2017, July 13). Indeed announces plans for several hundred new Stamford jobs. StamfordAdvocate. https://www.stamfordadvocate.com/business/article/Indeed-announces-plans-for-several-hundred-new-11283124.php


From Andrew Poole (Winter Term, 2022):

The Organization

Pixar Animation Studios (Pixar) is a subsidiary of Walt Disney Studios and operates as its own organization producing animated film technology. One of the most popular and successful animation film studios in the world, Pixar has produced 24 animated films with significant success. In 1995 Pixar produced the animated film Toy Story, and proceeded to produce three more sequels of the film, the most recent adaptation in 2019, with a total net gross of $3 billion dollars worldwide (Piddubna, 2021). The initial concept was developed in 1979 by George Lucas, to perform as a state-of-the-art computer technology division for LucasFilms. The division made significant technological advances in animated computer technology until 1986, when it was purchased by Steve Jobs and established as an individual organization called “Pixar”. Between 1986 and 2019 Pixar established itself as one of the top animation studios in the world, producing a number of worldwide film blockbusters such as, The Incredibles Series, Finding Nemo, Monsters Inc., Up, and Brave (Pixar, 2019). In 2006 as Pixar celebrated its 20th anniversary, the organization was purchased by Walt Disney Studios for $7.6 billion dollars (Pixar, 2019).

Recent societal trends regarding entertainment are becoming increasingly dependent on streaming services. Disney+ is an entertainment platform which was released in 2019 and promotes all of Pixar’s feature films, as well as Academy Award winning animated short films, such as Bao (Pixar, 2019). This contemporary entertainment platform has provided Pixar the ability to advance their capabilities in the film industry. The financial success of Pixar and its ability to consistently produce successful animated technology is due in large part to its organizational culture.

The Organizational Culture

Much of the success at Pixar is a result of the organization’s culture which relies heavily on embracing creativity and teamwork. Leaders and managers at Pixar understand the internal factors that influence organizational culture and have developed a variety of methods for developing a successful atmosphere for employees. The vision at Pixar provides insight into the organization’s aspirations, which are “To make great films with great people” (Razzetti, 2020). Expanding on their vision, the organization’s mission statement briefly explains how they intend to achieve their goals. The mission statement at Pixar Studios is to “combine proprietary technology and world-class creative talent to develop computer-animated feature films with memorable characters and heartwarming stories that appeal to audiences of all ages” (Comparably, 2022). As evident by their mission statement, Pixar significantly embraces creative talent within their organization. In the film industry creativity is not built out of one single idea, it is the combination of a vast number of ideas from different perspectives, which gives rise to a successful product. Pixar studios encourages creativity through teamwork, an emotional culture, and trusting relationships.

One of the key elements to developing and maintaining positive and successful organizational culture is strong management of internal factors. One of the reasons Pixar has found success within their culture is the strong leadership provided by co-founder Ed Catmull. Successful leadership entails setting the standard for expected behavior, clearly communicating, and promoting the organization’s vision and mission, as well as being approachable. Catmull’s methods for developing a strong culture include removing barriers, embracing a peer culture, and accepting uncertainty (Developing a Culture of Innovation, n.d.). There are a number of potential barriers that can influence organizational culture such as class and language barriers. Pixar aims to remove these barriers by providing each employee the freedom to communicate with anyone to solve problems.

Embracing a peer culture means supporting one another at every level and staying committed to performing and producing the best work possible. Pixar’s peer culture methods include forming two groups, “the Brain Trust and the Dailies”. The brain trust consists of members at the highest levels such as leaders and directors and encouraged creative open dialogue discussions regarding current projects. The Brain Trust fostered a candid environment where members were encouraged to speak their mind, regardless of emotions which created an environment that discouraged fear of recourse. The Dailies group is open to all employees and encourages them to share incomplete projects to discourage employees from feeling embarrassed of unfinished work. This openness provides the opportunity for input of creative ideas from all members and may cause a spark that ignites a flame under a project.

Managing internal and external factors of organizational behavior is one of the strengths at Pixar. The workplace design is an open office concept, with communal tables, independent booths, and an outside patio (Miller, 2017). This design layout provides a number of options for employees to utilize their creative talents. It also provides employees a refreshing change from a cubicle type setting and fosters a happy and friendly atmosphere. Additionally, technology is one of the biggest factors that can affect an organization’s culture, and given Pixar is dependent on technology for its success, the proper management of technological factors is essential for productivity. This means that leaders and managers must develop methods of researching and developing any new forms of technology that may give them an advantage over their competitors.

Impact Created

The measurable effects of workplace culture can be assessed by identifying how successfully the leaders and employees execute the vision and mission of the organization. The vision and mission at Pixar are focused on creating exceptional films with exceptional people, while prioritizing employee creativity and teamwork. Workplace culture at Pixar can be measured by examining the methods that leaders implement to create and sustain teamwork. By implementing these groups which allow employees voices to be heard, as well as promoting creative input from all members, the leaders at Pixar are successfully aligning with the organization’s mission statement. Employees often perform higher quality work when they are given the freedom to express themselves and feel like their input matters. The overwhelming prioritization on employee worth is evident in co-founder Ed Catmull’s belief that “great movies are made from the ‘tens of thousands of ideas’ that go into them from beginning to completion. As such, everyone needs to contribute their ideas and opinions, everyone’s work matters and everyone makes a difference in the quality of a film” (Stallard, 2014). Employee reviews are a direct reflection of the culture within an organization and can provide insight into the success of leaders and managers.

Comparably is an online platform which utilizes employee surveys and reviews to rank the various elements within organizations using a traditional letter grade score (A+ being excellent, and F being failure). Employee feedback regarding workplace culture consists of how excited employees are to go to work, their relationships with leaders and managers, as well as how they feel about productivity. Pixar has 219 rating on the web platform, with work culture receiving a grade of B. In response to how excited employees were to go to work, 80% replied that they were excited, and 78% responded that they were excited to work with coworkers. Compared to other companies with between 1,001 and 5,000 employees, Pixar ranks in the top 30% in work culture. The successful workplace culture at Pixar is evident by the following tangible measurement: Perks and benefits “A+”, meetings score “B+”, team and employee happiness “B”, and a manager score “B” (Comparably, 2022).

Successful organizational culture at Pixar was determined based on a variety of elements. The implementation of working groups which foster a team friendly atmosphere and freedom to speak up lends to the happiness that employees feel. The rule at Pixar that leaders and managers from any department are approachable at all times allows employees to feel valued and promotes a positive and productive work environment. Co-founder Ed Catmull promotes a healthy work environment that focuses on employee satisfaction and creativity, which are essential for an animation studio that relies on creativity to be successful. Leaders’ continued ability to manage internal and external factors, as well as align culture with the mission and vision, allows the organization to stay focused on the long-term goal and sustain a successful organizational culture. Additionally, positive employee feedback from over two-hundred employees is evidence that the culture at Pixar has consistently stayed employee-focused and sustainable.

Connection to Course Concepts

There are a number of factors which influence organizational culture, such as internal factors, external factors, and how an organization prioritizes their values and beliefs. In order for an organization to have a successful culture leaders must have a powerful influence on employees. Leaders must adhere to and properly communicate the mission, values, and beliefs to employees. Employees must all be on the same page in order for the organization to perform at its highest potential. The co-founder of Pixar Ed Catmull exemplifies leadership and his focus on maintain a happy and creative team that is focused on producing the best animated films in the world. Utilizing Granter’s adaptation of Schein’s organizational culture pyramid, Pixar is able to positively influence organizational culture. At the top of the pyramid is reactions to social and economic change, the second level includes corporate logos, rituals, and building layout, the next level involves the values and culture of the organization, and the fourth and final level is workers sense of identity (Studies, 2019).

One of the most valuable assets at Pixar is their ability to promote their values and beliefs through their products. In reference to the first level of the pyramid, Pixar is able to encourage social change through their films. Not only does this provide the public with a certain perception of organizational culture, but it also allows the diversity of the employee’s voices to be heard and promoted through creativity. The culture at Pixar is manifested in the second level of the pyramid through its ritual working groups, the Dailies and Brain Trust groups. These groups promote the creative and team-friendly atmosphere that is essential to workplace culture. Additionally, the layout at Pixar is an open concept, with an outdoor patio, as well as individual “pods”, which empowers employees with various resources. The third level of the pyramid is encompassed by co-founder Ed Catmull’s leadership, and managers’ ability to utilize internal and external factors to align with the organization’s vision. Leadership at Pixar promotes a peer friendly atmosphere where employees feel valued and are given freedom to utilize their creative ideas in a variety of ways. The fourth level of the pyramid is manifested in how employees feel about leadership and the prior three levels. At Pixar employees’ reviews on the Comparably platform provide insight into the organizational culture, where employees feel strongly about their relationships with leaders and managers. Additionally, employees enjoy going to work and working with coworkers, which is evidence that employees have a positive attitude to leaderships ability to successfully promote the first three levels of the pyramid.

Future Implications

Many organizations have the capability to provide exceptional services and/or produce excellent materials and products; however, failure to sustain a positive and productive organizational culture may be detrimental to the success of the organization. Pixar’s success is a direct reflection of their values and proficient ability of leaders and managers to create and sustain a positive culture. In regard to organizational behavior culture “is formed by an organization’s values and beliefs which are infused throughout the organization from upper management through entry-level employees” (Studies, 2019). Culture begins and ends at top-level leaders, which is why it is so important that they set the precedent and perform up to or higher than the same expectations that they have of their employees. Leaders set the bar and are responsible for managing the internal factors and external factors that influence culture. Pixar is a great example of a successful organizational culture because of the emphasis they have on creating a positive and creative atmosphere, and how well they take care of their employees. The leaders at Pixar maintain an environment that is open and honest, which shows employees they are not only valued, but they are perceived as equals. By mimicking some of the concepts used at Pixar, current and future organizations can improve their own cultures.

References

Comparably. (2022, February 15). Pixar animation studios work culture score.  Retrieved February 19, 2022, from https://www.comparably.com/companies/pixar-animation-studios/work-culture

Developing a Culture of Innovation: Lessons Learned from Pixar’s Co-Founder | LegalConnect. (n.d.). https://legalconnect.com/developing-a-culture-of-innovation-lessons-learned-from-pixars-co-founder/

Miller, J. (2017, August 22). The Science Behind How Steve Jobs Designed Pixar’s Office. Inc. Retrieved February 19, 2022, from https://www.inc.com/jeff-miller/3-ways-to-design-an-office-for-collaboration-not-c.html

Piddubna, K. (2021, September 24). 9 World’s Best Animation Production Companies. XPLAI. Retrieved February 18, 2022, from https://xplai.com/blog/the-worlds-9-best-animation-production-companies/#Pixar_Animation_Studios

Pixar Animation Studios. (2019). Pixar Animation Studios. Pixar Animation Studios. https://www.pixar.com/our-story-pixar

Pixar Animation Studios Mission, Vision & Values. Comparably. (2022). Retrieved February 18, 2022, from https://www.comparably.com/companies/pixar-animation-studios/mission

Razzetti, G. (2020, January 5). How Pixar designed a culture of collective creativity. Fearless Culture. Retrieved February 18, 2022, from https://www.fearlessculture.design/blog-posts/pixar-culture-design-canvas#:~:text=Pixar%20establishes%20the%20following%20priorities%3A&text=Pixar%20rewards%3A%20creativity%20as%20a,egos%2C%20and%20Silicon%20Valley’s%20culture.

Stallard, M. (2014, May 23). 3 Ways pixar gains competitive advantage from its culture. Connection Culture Group. Retrieved February 18, 2022, from https://www.connectionculture.com/post/3-ways-pixar-gains-competitive-advantage-culture

Studies, G. (2019, December 11). Organizational Behavior. Retrieved January 11, 2022, from https://granite.pressbooks.pub/mgmt805/

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Organizational Behavior by Graduate Studies is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.