The Cultures Of Best Buy, Google, GE, And Semco

I just ran across an interesting blog post called Four Radically Different Cultural Models: Best Buy, Google, GE, Semco. It outlines the differences in the culture and people management across these four firms. Here’s an excerpt:

  • General Electric: The Ruthless Meritocracy
    Six Sigma (with some room for bringing in new ideas). True to GE’s past, the massive company still strives for perfection through efficiency, but CEO Jeffrey Immelt is pushing innovation just as hard to make up for Six Sigma’s tendency to kill creativity.
  • Google: The Whimsical Idea Factory
    (Slightly) controlled chaos. Build fantastic facilities that eliminate employees’ everyday hassles and make them want to come to work (and stay there). Let them tinker and watch the sparks fly.
  • Best Buy: The Every-Day-Is-Saturday Model
    We’re all adults here. Work is not a place you go, it’s something you do, so there’s no reason for the company to dictate when and where employees work. Managers look solely at results produced, not hours spent at a desk or in meetings.
  • Semco: The Extreme Democracy
    Employees run the show, which means transparency in all things. Salaries are public knowledge, and complaints about managers are posted for all to see. Semco, a conglomerate that does everything from industrial engineering to environmental consulting, has no corporate strategy (really) and no predefined career paths. The idea is that workers should be the ones who identify strategic opportunities – for both the company and themselves.
My take: It’s not an accident that “Invest In Culture As A Corporate Asset” is at the top of my list of 6 new management imperatives. It’s critical for senior execs to ask themselves and their management teams: What culture do we want to create and nurture? As you ponder the answer to this question, make sure to keep in mind these laws of customer experience:
The bottom line: Pay attention to your corporate culture.

Written by 

I am a customer experience transformist, helping large organizations improve business results by changing how they deal with customers. As part of this focus, I examine strategy, culture, interaction design, customer service, branding and leadership practices. I am also a fanatical student of business, so this blog provides an outlet for sharing insights from my ongoing educational journey. Simply put, I am passionate about spotting emerging best practices and helping companies master them. And, as many people know, I love to speak about these topics in almost any forum. My “title” is Managing Partner of the Temkin Group, a customer experience research and consulting firm that helps organizations become more customer-centric. Our goal is simple: accelerate the path to delighting customers. I am also the co-founder and Emeritus Chair of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (, a non-profit organization dedicated to the success of CX professionals.

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