Axe on timber

Clash of Culture – MediaWorks and Mark Weldon Part Ways

May 4th, 2016

A clash of culture happens when cultures don’t mesh – and the resulting fireworks can be very dangerous. It gives further reason to care about culture and how one’s personal culture can affect the entire organisation. Some choice excerpts from NZ Herald – 4 May 2016 article on Mark Weldon’s resignation (all emphasis is mine):

  • “People in that company actually love that company. The issue for Mark is that he wasn’t really a cultural fit. He, for his own reasons, wanted to develop a culture that he believed in but it ran very contrary to the culture that existed there – and it was always going to end up in a tough situation.” – Mark Jennings (former MediaWorks news chief)
  • Former weekend newsreader Carolyn Robinson tweeted: “Goodbye Weldon. Don’t trip on the ruins you created as you leave.” Former Campbell Live producer Pip Keane posted: “It’s definitely a karma day.”
  • “People work very much for each other. That seemed to be very different to the way Mark saw things.”
  • “The culture was a no blame culture. If something did go wrong we all accepted responsibility for it. It wasn’t a culture to single people out. It meant we were close and people were always prepared to go over and above what they were paid for and what was expected of them. The hard thing for me was to see people drop off that.”- Mark Jennings

Allow me to defend Mark on some of those issues. He came in when MediaWorks was on the brink of bankruptcy. People (the Board and creditors) expect swift action during a crisis, and that’s exactly what he provided. There is little time to sit around and do feasibility studies on a rescue mission when the ship is rapidly sinking! And while I acknowledge that MediaWorks looks like it has a great culture (the no blame culture is similar where I work), we have to be honest – it’s not producing the results required to sustain itself. I can imagine Mark pinpointing the culture as something that needs to change, but perhaps he went too far or off-course.

Will acting CEO David Chalmers continue Mark’s strategy or dial it back down to avoid another clash of culture? Time will tell I suppose. For now (and in conjunction with May the 4th), may the force be with Mark’s next endeavour.

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