by Olof Schybergson and Baiju Shah

Can Corporate And Creative Cultures Ever Truly Merge?

No. And that’s okay, write Fjord co-leads Olof Schybergson and Baiju Shah for Fast Company.

Fast Company:

It has been said that the No. 1 job of a CEO (and the entire C-Suite, really) is to cultivate culture. The notion being that if a strong culture exists, everything else—employee morale, customer satisfaction, and more—will fall into place. But what happens when you bring together two vastly different cultures in a merger? In real life, they say opposites attract, but does that apply to business?

That was the issue we faced in 2013 when Accenture Interactive—the digital agency of the global professional services company Accenture—acquired Fjord, a design and innovation consultancy. Infusing design into business was obvious to us, but we now had the daunting task of integrating a design boutique—filled with free-spirited creatives, open studios, collaborative workspaces, and the like—into a then 261,000-person firm best known for large-scale technology and business consulting. We told our people it wouldn’t be smooth. For our clients, we had to merge design sensibilities (think designer optimism vs. consultant pragmatism) and different disciplines (technology, business strategy, design) into a cohesive team. Studies show that 50% to 80% of mergers fail, and culture integration is often to blame. We knew the risk of messing this up was real. And we didn’t have experience with something on this scale. So how did we marry cultures? The short answer: We didn’t.

Instead, we worked to foster a culturally diverse environment in the hopes that it would draw out the best parts of our newly merged workforce. Here’s how we did it.

Read the full article at Fast Company.

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