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The Culture Cycle: How to Shape the Unseen Force that Transforms Performance by James Heskett

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2. Culture as “Know How”

Some very successful leaders believe that culture is the foundation on which the success of their organizations is based. Arkadi Kuhlmann, CEO of ING Direct, an online-banking organization, is a strong believer in this theory. In his words: “With the right culture, the problems of commitment, alignment, and motivation go away and hierarchy becomes irrelevant.... [Managers] tend to set strategy and plans first and then try to put the right people in place. Great companies do it the other way around.”1 Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos.com, an Internet shoe retailer, puts it this way: “...our belief is that if you get the culture right, most of the other stuff—like great customer service, or building a great long-term brand, or ...

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