Integrity Matters Broadcasts

December 1, 2004

Organizational Integrity

Dear Friends:

Have you been reading about the new company that will combine the “K-Mart blue light special” tradition with the “good, better, best” promises of Sears? It is difficult to imagine any larger cultural challenge for building and sustaining organizational integrity, let alone economic success. Identifying and clarifying common operating values must become priority # 1.

Someone, very soon, will need to clarify and communicate the new corporation’s operating values. Organizational Integrity will be possible when all of the stakeholders know clearly how they are to behave, from Wall Street to Main Street and from corporate row to the frontline service representative. If the merger generates more success, then some creative and highly paid “business architect” will likely seek all of the credit. If things go poorly, watch these very same self-serving guru’s duck for cover and wrap themselves in the egalitarian “cloth coat” of committee-driven politics. Suddenly, democracy is what these “leaders” will talk about if this merger “goes south” because everyone will claim that they are all in this together, equally, with no one really in charge or accountable.

Those who might have failed in successfully rallying the necessary resources for “perfuming this genetically-altered economic pig” will now energetically participate in the cannibalistic feeding frenzy. When mistakes are made, and such a large undertaking will likely experience many, the two regular (indictment) questions will surface. What did they know? When did they know it? So, what would drive this seemingly counter-productive merger action?

Years ago a valued advisor made the following comment: “Remember, mergers are more about what you give up than what you gain.” Some very wise business scholars have analyzed this multi-billion dollar deal and are scratching their heads in disbelief. What prompted two struggling entities to combine their weak bottom lines? What pressures could prompt such differing organizations to join forces under the same roof? What economic drivers forced this “shot-gun” wedding?

How do you spell Wal-Mart?

Now, let’s get serious. We know that just about any organizational and leadership combination can be made to work, if all the participating and consenting parties are committed to the vision and mission and are signed-on to a unifying culture. Sears and K-Mart leaders should conduct an audit to make sure that all parties involved know that their respective cultures are now subject to change (giving up the comfortable and familiar) in order to leverage the new possibilities that can be created by mergers and acquisitions.

We have built a consulting practice helping leaders to improve productivity and avoid common organizational pitfalls by securing YES* answers to these four questions. When the response to each of these questions is yes, then no issue can polarize the group or create destructive behaviors. Yes answers confirm that successful individuals know the right way to do the right things, repeatedly, whether in domestic or multicultural organizations. When organizational beliefs are clear and operating behaviors are consistent, then productivity-enhancing alignment is the by-product. Organizational, operational and cultural alignment enables members of teams to improve longer-term effectiveness along with immediate economic impact. Insight, awareness and discipline lead to success. What are your answers to these four questions?

  1. Do the people involved understand the required skill sets to make individual jobs and the members of their team productive?
  2. Are they valued by and bring value to the organization?
  3. Are those involved aware of and committed to the vision, mission and strategy?
  4. Are the participants signed-on to the organization’s supported behavior and culture?

*Developed by James F. Bracher, November 18, 1994

For the K-Mart and Sears merger to work, or acquisitions with which you might be familiar, of almost any size, from individuals getting married (merged), to economic giants deciding to combine (acquisition), leaders must step forward and clarify the ground rules (operating principles and values). Everyone who is impacted needs to know what is expected, clearly and immediately. Sometimes a third (new) culture needs to be delineated to integrate the two.

Progress can be measured along the way, but only when the “right” (effective) behavior has been defined. Frequent check-ups can build confidence among those charged with delivering results and the best way to enhance effectiveness is to listen. Click here to learn one way to gain input from colleagues, utilizing our 90 question Feedback© Survey that breaks out leadership responsibilities into five categories. Samples of five of the ninety questions, with corresponding Feedback© Survey numbers in parenthesis:

Job Behaviors:
Can disagree without offending people? (30)
Is the person a good listener? (46)
Interpersonal Relations:
Will the individual get tough when it is called for? (19)
Does the person encourage excellence? (27)
Training and Development:
Does the individual encourage others to grow? (13)

Happy Holidays!
Our January Broadcast will address team integrity:


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