Wal-Mart’s culture is defined by various elements and characteristics such as customer satisfaction, corporate social responsibility, ethical principles in business practices, pursuit of low costs and high involvement of employees.
Customer satisfaction is the focus of Wal-Mart’s activities. This was demonstrated by the emphasis given to it by its CEO in 2008 while addressing stakeholders. The CEO was pleased that the company had been able to provide customers with more satisfying experience during shopping.
The social responsibility element in Wal-Mart’s culture is evident in its contributions to the well-being of communities within its operating environments. The company has been able to provide energy saving products such as bulbs, re-usable bags to reduce environmental pollution and selling organic foods.
Conducting business activities ethically means that the company adheres to the commonly acceptable standards of transparency and accountability towards stakeholders. Wal-Mart has always been committed to reducing cost through various means. Reducing costs while maintaining high quality products and services ensures that the company remains attractive to the current and prospective customers, thereby maintaining its competitive advantage.
Wal-Mart values the inputs of its employees and highly involves them in generating ideas. This happens on Saturdays when employees brainstorm and generate ideas and decide on how to solve current problems.
Wal-Mart’s culture is adaptive in many aspects. Although the company has been a leader in the retail industry, its excellent performance did not blind its perception about the changing world. The company has acknowledged the fact that its survival and future performance depends on its ability to adapt to the changing environments. During his address to shareholders in 2008, the Wal-Mart’s CEO expressed his satisfaction that the company had made positive progress in convincing its employees to embrace the transformation, a requirement that any adaptive company must fulfill to succeed in transforming. Like any company in the current prevailing economic conditions, strategies are bound to the changes. Such change was apparent in Wal-Mart where it altered its mission and mission statement. This change necessitated culture change, which enabled the company to embrace transformation.
Despite successful transformation accomplished by Wal-Mart, there are imminent challenges in the company. There are issues that the company must deal with regarding these challenges.
One of the isssues that the CEO and the management of Wal-Mart must address is the mechanism of ensuring that the organization remains at the forefront in adapting to the changes that happen in the retail industry. The transformation that happened from 2006 was late because Wal-Mart made the step in an attempt to catch up with competitors who had already taken steps ahead. The company needs to be proactive to the possible problems instead of reacting when a problem occurs. The company, therefore, should ensure that its structure and employees are flexible to any change that may occur and are able to maintain efficiency amid the changes.
Another issue that the CEO and the management must deal with is how to correctly respond to the ever-changing needs of consumers for the company to remain competitive. These needs prompt to change and, therefore, Wal-Mart must be ready to fulfill them if the company wants to remain a leader in adapting to changes.
Although the management was able to draft and implement a transformation strategy, its effects on dealing with critics are not clear. The CEO and the management must conduct an evaluation on the effectiveness of the transformation process. This is crucial in determining whether problems upon which the criticism was based have been solved or still persist. Consequently, the CEO and the management can decide the course of action to take depending on the outcomes of evaluation.