Red and Green are Not Just for the Holiday

A company with a multiple personality disorder lacks the ability to develop a consistent product or service. An electronics manufacturer, who we will call Electron Systems, experienced the drawback of having so many personalities without a cohesive culture. Jeff worked with this company who needed to find a way to meet the expectations of their parent company but struggled with a way to do so.

After careful analysis of the company’s organization and culture, the conclusion was drawn that they excelled at manufacturing but lacked the culture of innovation needed to grow. This is where Jeff’s four colors of create, control, compete, and collaborate correspond with the different personalities of a company. Electron Systems had excellent red-control practices but a dismal green-create practices they need to innovate. The red overwhelmed the green and sought to destroy it. However, both colors are needed to create innovation and sustain it. When this was brought to the attention of the top level, the team began a discussion of how a new culture might be received by its parent company. Still valuing their red-control, the decision was made to change the culture but only in specific areas.

Now comes the tricky part; culture change requires a Herculean effort combined with a great systematic plan with a healthy dose of patience and perseverance. By recognizing that Electron Systems had multiple cultures, the company was able to initiate a change process that was sensitive to the internal differences. With Jeff’s guidance, leaders at all levels learned to speak the same innovation language and start appreciating and celebrating the differences of the various approaches of innovation. They supported the distinct cultures dominant in different parts of the organization and stopped making everyone follow the same set of organizational process and practices.

Soon innovation leaders with different organization cultures: red, green, yellow, and blue, took ownership the company’s innovation initiatives in their own respective areas. Innovation communities started to emerge and support one another. They started to create the capability to create and sustain innovation. 

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