‘THE CHALLENGE OF CULTURAL TRANFORMATION’
In 2005 I founded a real estate developer company with its primary function being developing and selling apartments and houses in the high-end market in Athens. A few years later when the real estate market started loosing its momentum in an attempt to maintain a steady flow of revenues, our business evolved into offering consulting services and construction projects for larger companies. The result was that our main business moved from B2C to B2B. In order to be competitive in this new market a cultural transformation was essential but at the same time really challenging to achieve. Additionally some of the tasks that were ...view middle of the document...
4. Two-step hierarchy: Everyone would contribute equally with their ideas but final decisions were always up to the founders.
This culture worked really well for us. We were targeting the high-end housing market with a strategy that aimed for extreme design and out of the ordinary features in our houses. Costs were always higher than our competitors but it was a conscious choice that gave us more freedom in our designs. Creativity and bold design gave us a good market share and high profits. The previously described characteristics helped in generating new ideas and having a fun work environment, which in turn enhanced the high energy of our team. High profit margins gave us the chance to work only with the more inspiring aspects of the real estate business, leaving the more bureaucratic processes like acquiring building permits for outsourced professionals.
In time this market lost its volume and we decided to aim for a different one in our attempt to make up for our revenue losses. Building on our track record and my personal network we started taking on construction contracts working for larger companies but with really low profit margins. In addition to that we entered the market of planning permits and of consulting on construction management. Unfortunately These new activities did not fit with our company’s culture. Our interaction with professionals from larger organizations required more structure. Our business partners were used to a different way of doing business, their way however made sense in this business environment. Creativity was not important any more, instead what mattered was keeping costs down, being able to predict the details of each project and having an efficient management system. In order to achieve that, a different culture had to be established. The main characteristics should be:
1. Structure: Efficient and complicated management systems had to be established and followed, protocols in our communication with the executives of the other firms and strict agendas during our meetings.
2. Planning: Each project had to be planned out carefully, there should be no room for initiative by the operation managers.
3. Hierarchy: Our company was not large enough to have multiple hierarchy levels but an understanding of how hierarchy works and why it is necessary should be part of our employees mindset especially if we wanted to work with more complex organizations.
4. Specialization: Given that efficiency and structured management would be our new goals making sure that each employee would specialize in a specific function would be a step to the right direction.
Unfortunately we never managed to intergrade all of these characteristics in our business culture and that is something that to some extent limited our ability to evolve and grow in this market.
In the grounds of networking there was significant work that had to be done in order to be able to compete in a...