Walmart’s overall corporate culture was the primary culprit in its massive bribery scandal in Mexico, but there was one simple problem that allowed its entire scandal to happen in the first place.
Its organizational processes were insufficient and too slow.
Paul Wallis exposes the problem in a column at the Digital Journal:
“Worthy of mention here is that Wal Mart apparently didn’t have a senior management fixer to deal with the problems at inception. (This person is basically a head kicker, able to fire with a phone call and do the damage control ASAP.)
They had a remote process from the Mexican end to corporate headquarters. That’s a classic mistake. The only way to control internal problems is with a fast moving process which can keep up with developments and stop the rot. You just can’t do these things at a bureaucratic pace any more.”
So, what would’ve been the answer for Walmart?
There needed to be a go-to solution in-house, but there wasn’t. Management needed a place to go to for help — a person with the authority to say “enough,” and do it quickly.
And if the corporate culture was too far gone to provide the solution itself — after all, current and former CEOs Mike Duke and Lee Scott were both briefed on the situation, according to the New York Times report — Walmart required external checks in place. It needed someone on the outside to track down the problems and protect Walmart’s best interests. Importantly, they would need the authority to put a stop to it.
Walmart’s structure had neither of these things. Instead, it had a massive multinational bureaucracy, and look what happened.
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