Whether it is in people or companies, change brings about a transformation. In fact, it also requires recognizing special features that cannot be discarded. Companies in particular take great care not to touch their ‘DNA’ during the change process. A company’s DNA is what its stakeholders see as constituting its competitive advantage. If those who are applying the change process ignore this competitive advantage then there will be problems.
“A harmonious, cohesive structure facilitates change. For this reason, the first thing you should do is determine which of your special characteristics must not be changed. Once this has been done then you can change whatever is left. There is a correlation between a company’s success and the degree to which it safeguards its DNA. Basing everything on the DNA produces a competitive advantage. Wal-Mart has never changed its basic principles, that is to say its DNA.” These words belong to the famous consultant and author Jim Collins. Collins believes that, when a company changes, it must ensure that it bears in mind the basic values that constitute its DNA.
In fact, Collins is not alone in thinking this. All over the world many companies which have made a name for themselves have demonstrated that is their DNA that makes them different and which has enabled them to continue to be successful. For example, ever since the day that it was founded, 3M has been noteworthy for its creativity. Wal-Mart has stayed ahead of its competitors with its different work processes and Zara has a procurement chain without parallel in any other company. Companies such as Bosch and Unilever have based their images on reputation and trust.
There are companies in Turkey which have been aware of their DNA ever since the day that they were established and have secured a competitive advantage as a result. Arçelik with its good service, Ülker with the way in which it has focused on taste in all of its products, Aygaz with its reliability and Vestel with its ability to react quickly, have each stood out in their respective sectors.
Tanyer Sönmezer, the Management Centre General Manager for Turkey, says that it is usually long-established companies which are aware of their DNA. Sönmezer notes that companies which have not changed their basic character will always secure a competitive advantage. Most experts agree with Sönmezer in thinking that companies which are aware of their own DNA will remain strong in the future.
Executives appointed from within at Benetton
In the 1980s Turkey had very limited trained human resources in the retail clothing sector. It was during those years that Benetton entered the market and brought dynamism to the sector by establishing its own human resources principles. It developed an employee profile unique to itself. For 20 years it has not worked with anyone who did not fit this profile. Benetton General Manager for Turkey Zeynep Selgur summarizes the defining characteristics of this profile as being someone who has an international vision, the spirit of an amateur and loves teamwork. She says that the most important characteristic of Benetton Turkey, and something which will not change, is that the company always appoints its executives and general managers from within its own ranks. She says that, from perspective of career planning, this provides the workforce with incredible motivation.
It is technology which gives Turkcell the edge
Ever since the day it was established 11 years ago Turkcell, which is the market leader in the GSM sector with 24 million subscribers, has been noteworthy for its consistency. Turkcell was Turkey’s first GSM operator and, by focusing on technology, it has been able to remain the market leader ever since. Ali Kesan, Turkcell Deputy General Manager Responsible for Sales and Marketing, says: “In a sector such as mobile communications where developments move very fast it is important to maintain this characteristic.”
Kesan notes that, in addition to the investments in technology which it has realized ever since the day it was founded, the company has also focused on its corporate social responsibility activities. Indeed, over the last year, the company has stressed these special characteristics and has striven to develop marketing activities in this direction. Kesan says that Turkcell has created a very strong bond of trust with the consumer.
Minimum hierarchy at Vestel
Over the last five years in particular, Vestel expansion on both the domestic and foreign markets has had everybody talking . More recently the company has maintained this momentum through launching technology products. Vestel General Manager for Marketing Levent Hatay says that the company has been implementing minimum hierarchy in its organizational structure. He says that an open communications environment has been created in which everyone can freely share their views and suggestions. He adds that this has also accelerated decision-making processes within the company. He notes that being able to work more freely has also increased employee productivity.
Garanti Bankası focused on the customer
There are some very long-established companies in the finance sector in Turkey. But, in the mind of the consumer, some banks have a much clearer image than others. Garanti Bankası is one of these. Şebnem Dönbekci, Manager of the Garanti Bankası Customer Relations Management and Marketing Department, says that the DNA that has kept Garanti Bank strong from the outset is focusing on the customer.
She says that the slogan “Would you like anything else?” has strengthened this DNA. She notes that they focus not just on the needs expressed by the customers but also on the needs of which they are unaware. She adds that, at the same time, Garanti has never made any concessions in terms of the quality of its service quality.
For Unilever it is its reputation which makes the difference
Unilever has been active in Turkey since 1953 and its well-known brands across a variety of different sectors have kept it in the public eye. Analysts says that Unilever’s most important special characteristic is reaching the consumer through different marketing strategies. As a result, the company has succeeded in reaching consumers in every section of society through its broad product portfolio. Ever since it first began operations in Turkey, Unilever Turkey has never lost sight of the fact that its most important special characteristics is its reputation.
Unilever Nutrition and Corporate Communications Director Ebru Şenel Erim says that its reputation is the result of the company treating with respect everyone who is affected by its activities. She says that this reputation is as important to the company as its employees and its brands.
WHAT HAVE COMPANIES GAINED BY FOCUSING ON THEIR DNA?
DNA CHANGES ACCORDING TO THE MODEL In the innovative products development model, product development, branding and distribution channels are vitally important. In the improvement of processes model, process leadership, productivity and optimization are the important points. In customer relations management it is customer relations, chain management and target optimization which are important.
WAL-MART DRIVES THE SECTOR Wal-Mart, Cisco Systems and Amazom.com can be cited as among the most successful examples of different business models. When its began in the retailing sector, Wal-Mart introduced different processes. It optimized, productivity, standardized and continually improved, and became the company which drives the sector.
AMAZON REACHES A BROAD SPECTRUM When it started up Amazon succeeded by selling books through a different channel and stressing this innovative model. But then it discovered how powerful a vehicle the Internet was for establishing relations with customers and succeeded in reaching a broader spectrum of society by personalizing its intermediary departments.