Monday, June 15, 2009


Culture matters

In a Mercury News article last week about the bidding war between NetApp and EMC for Data Domain, NetApp CMO Jay Kidd called out the better "cultural compatibility" between his company and Data Domain. In a world where "shareholder value" trumps pretty much everything, it was good to see someone calling out culture as a value. I've worked with Jay, so I took the perspective to be more than marketing positioning. I shared with him that I'd also recently seen the influence of cultural differences, and he pointed out that the Wall Street Journal had picked up the topic today.

It might be one of those Venus and Mars differences. As evidenced in the Comments section on the WSJ article, the shareholder value set (Mars) doesn't really get this culture (Venus) stuff, despite language that on the surface says it gets it. The challenge is that culture doesn't readily lend itself to being rendered into numbers to show a better deal. Instead, it manifests itself as the sum of things like the decisions people make, how they go about doing their work, how the leaders lead, and what and who gets rewarded. These play out in terms of how the individuals and teams perform and, ultimately, the company. Of course, if EMC acquiring Data Domain is a defensive move as Jay contends, then culture and performance really don't matter.

© Arthur Ignacio Consulting 2009

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