FORTUNE -- Read any management how-to, and it will talk about the sanctity of a company's culture. Culture, you could argue, drives everything a business does -- it's successes and its slip-ups. Cracks in an otherwise sound culture can lead to big, expensive mistakes, much of which we have recently seen in the financial industry.
But a company's culture changes constantly, which makes it a challenge for companies trying to define it and make sure it's progressing the way they want. More and more, companies are trying to figure out how to do this, says Ken Oehler, a senior vice president at consulting firm Aon Hewitt. "There's been a resurgence from our clients, certainly an elevation of importance of culture to the CEO level during the recession and post recession." Many companies, Oehler says, are seeing that "macroeconomic pressures have created a dysfunctional culture, one that is not supporting business performance moving forward," and now, they are trying to figure out how keep their culture from spinning out of control.
One way to do this is to bring someone into the C-Suite whose job it is to keep an eye on culture. The best-known example of this approach is Google (GOOG), which added "chief culture officer" to head of HR Stacy Sullivan's job title in 2006. Part of her job is to protect key parts of Google's scrappy, open-source cultural core as the company has evolved into a massive multinational.
But Google is the poster child for innovation and foosball at work, it makes sense that they would have a culture-keeper. Yet other, more traditional companies, even in the financial industry, have hired culture chiefs as well. One example is North Jersey Community Bank (NJCB), which recently appointed Maria Gendelman as its chief culture officer. CEO Frank Sorrentino encountered resistance from his board when he argued for the position, he says, because the job description is a little tough to define. Though now, having a chief culture officer is a differentiator for the bank, and there's no reason it shouldn't be status quo, Gendelman says. "Could every bank utilize a protector of the culture as part of the team?" she asks. "Absolutely." More
Technological change and profit-minded CEOs call for risk-taking marketing chieftains.
FORTUNE -- Talk about a tough gig: The average tenure of a chief marketing officer -- the corporate executive charged with branding, communications, and other activities -- is less than four years, in large part because of the increasing complexity of the job, says executive search firm Spencer Stuart.
Yet that complexity, fueled by new technologies such as social networks, is exactly MOREJessica Shambora, Writer-Reporter - Aug 8, 2011 5:00 AM ET
Chief information officers aren't just tech buyers. Increasingly, they're strategic thinkers.
By Adam Lashinsky, senior-editor-at-large
FORTUNE -- Chief information officers wouldn't make anyone's short list of the most important executives running a company. After all, why single out the top purchaser of servers and software, a glorified geek if ever there was one, as anything other than a role player whose job it is to keep things running and otherwise stay mum?
Here's MOREJun 30, 2011 5:00 AM ET
Why hire a full-time executive when you can just rent one? More and more companies are turning to interim execs to fill gaps in leadership and expertise.
By Stephenie Overman, contributor
FORTUNE -- They ride into town, close down a division or oversee an acquisition, then move on. Just don't call them temps.
Interim executives, according to those in the field, are professional problem solvers who "make something happen," says Robert M. MOREApr 15, 2011 10:02 AM ET
|Ousted Yahoo exec gets $58 million golden parachute|
|Canadians arrest a Heartbleed hacker|
|Hybrid laundromat-cafes are popping up across the country|
|US Airways won't fire worker who sent lewd tweet|
|GM's recalled Cobalt was a failure from the start|