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  • Writer's pictureTony Richards

Culture Copy Cats Are Losers

Many times leaders just can’t resist the temptation of path of least resistance.

They take the easier route. They think “why re-invent the wheel?”

They look at a successful company and they think they can copy it’s culture and make it their own. They research and study another organization’s culture rather than doing the hard work to create their own.

The most common example of this kind of thinking is when companies try to hire away executives from “hot” companies like Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Google, Netflix and so on, thinking they will bring some of the “magic” with them to inject into their enterprise.

The best case study for this is J.C. Penney & Ron Johnson. The J.C. Penney board of directors thought if they hired johnson as it’s CEO, his star power from Apple would inject the Apple magic into J.C. Penney. Smoke & mirrors rather than sound business practices and hard work.

J.C. Penney was broken long before Johnson took the job and it clearly got worse. In classic outsider glass-breaking CEO style, Johnson employed a by-now predictable revolutionary rhetoric to position himself as truly transformative. His high-end A-team, recruited like himself from outside, would reinvent retail for the twenty-first century and create a new entity, to be known simply as JCP.

Culturally, he also played all his cards wrong, failing to realize that he had to carefully bring his people along on the change path, not scare the bejesus out of them.

It ultimately failed and J.C. Penney was worse off than before.

You can not short cut the process of creating a culture of leadership by simply copying the aspect of another “cool culture”. Create your own vision, stick to your values and hire employees who buy into your vision and values.

Do the hard work, don’t short-cut it. Create your own success.

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