The topic of last week’s article was Technical Culture. Technical Culture has to do with the knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSA) of those who work within an organization, and it also speaks to the efficiency and effectiveness of the work processes that enable people to do their jobs. This week’s topic is the Market Culture. The Market Culture contrasts with the Technical Culture in one main respect: it is outwardly focused on the customer and external constituents rather than inwardly focused on the talents of the people within the organization. The KSA of individuals within the organization are used as a tool to respond to what the customers want or to shape their perceptions.
Naturally, then, Market Culture driven customer service organizations are also very responsive to customer inputs and perceptions, particularly as they pertain to the technical aspects of whatever product or service is offered. Thus, issues related to design and delivery become central. Market driven service cultures have mechanisms in place to gather this feedback or track it, and they deploy the necessary resources to address any problems, concerns, issues, or needs. Market driven cultures are innovative, as they strive to provide new services or product features to gain that competitive edge.
Another feature of the Market Culture that is very relevant to the aviation industry is the focus on numbers and the bottom line. Managers and leaders of Market driven cultures are very results oriented, and they are almost obsessed with numerical results that measure everything from profitability to customer service ratings. Consider the various industry ratings that appear in various magazines. These lists of “the best” are not only a lightening rod of controversy and discussion but they become a goal toward which aviation companies strive. It is not uncommon for Market-driven managers to do everything in their power to move their organizations up the list in such publications. The winners on these lists proudly advertise their placement on marketing collateral and website banners, because it is an indication of beating the competition. The popularity of such lists is a testament to the power of the market to shape organizational action.
In the end, every company within the aviation industry should pay heed to the market. However, obsession with the market may skew management action and wreak havoc on employee morale. We must remember that industry lists and quarterly profitability statements are short-term indicators of market success, but these indicators are susceptible to manipulation and fleeting customer attitudes and perceptions. Thus, like every other culture we have profiled, there are characteristics of the Market Culture that we must nurture within our organizations, but those characteristics must not be the sole focus of our attention.