A great example here of the link between new leadership and cultural change.
Marissa Mayer has recently taken over as CEO of troubled online business Yahoo. Once a high-flying Internet stock, Yahoo has struggled in recent years as rivals like Google have dominated the email and search engine market. Successive changes in leadership have failed to achieve a turnaround at Yahoo, so the challenge facing Mayer is tough. What is her strategy?
I’m indebted to Ian Pryer for spotting this excellent piece in the Wall Street Journal which provides some superb insights into how Mayer is trying to change the culture at Yahoo in her early days at the job.
She’s aiming to refocus employees away from an obsession with financial performance (e.g. removing the office ticker-tape displaying Yahoo’s struggling share price). Instead, the culture needs to be much more customer-focused to enable Yahoo to build or acquire innovative Web-based services.
Mayer comes to Yahoo from Google. In fact she was Google’s 20th employee! The article describes how she is introducing some employee-friendly policies that are part of the culture at Google.
For example, the Yahoo cafeteria now provides free food and Mayer has moved to significantly improve the frequency and quality of internal communication.
It’s clear that Mayer is also focusing on the key employees who are likely to drive Yahoo’s attempts to improve market share and enter new markets - the engineers and programmers who make Web services work.