Matching a company’s skills and attitude to the tasks required of it is crucial to success. This article notes, however, that companies perceive themselves differently than they actually are fully 80% of the time.

This is a lesson learned the hard way by office furniture maker Haworth, Inc. When it began, Haworth fitted the profile of a “clan” organizational structure, as defined by the University of Michigan model. They were open and friendly, internally-focused and driven by group cohesion. Over time, however, the company evolved into a “hierarchy” organizational culture with management control and a focus on security and efficiency. Their objective – a “market” culture within an aggressive, results-oriented company – failed to fit with the culture they had actually created. Objectives were being missed and the company seemed becalmed.

This article explores how Haworth is currently using workspace solutions to influence a cultural change. In particular, their collaboration with the University of Wisconsin not only helped them to adjust their culture and direction but has resulted in an “Ideation Lab” which helps to create customized office designs with a mix of public and private spaces that fit a chosen culture.

Source: Daniel Schoonmaker, Grand Rapids Business Journal; Aug 14, 2006

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