Sunday, October 14th was the anniversary of the Battle of Hastings, in 1066. In addition to being the last time there was a successful invasion of Britain, several other positive things came from this most historic event for English-speaking people. An article in the Telegraph, entitled “In everything we say, there is an echo of 1066”, writer Alan Massie said that “the most enduring legacy is also the richest: our wonderful hybrid language and the golden treasury that is English literature.” He went on to state that “Without the Norman Conquest, Shakespeare would not have been Shakespeare, because his language would have resembled 16th-century German or Dutch. He would never have written a phrase like “the multitudinous seas incarnadine”. Our language often loses vitality if it moves too far from the Anglo-Saxon and is overweighed by Latinate words, but much of its richness and scope derives from its dual inheritance. “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? / Thou art more lovely and more temperate.”
I thought about Massie’s article when reading this past Sunday’s New York Times (NYT) Corner Office section in which reporter Adam Bryant interviewed Hilton Worldwide President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Christopher Nassetta, in an article entitled “On a Busy Road, a Company Needs Guardrails”. For all you compliance practitioners who work at large multi-national companies with employee numbers between 50,000 to 100,000; you should think about the compliance challenge at Hilton, which has over 300,000 employees worldwide. Nassetta said that one of the things he found when he initially took the position was that “I discovered when I joined the company five years ago is that we had a lot of segments of the company that operated very independently, and we had massive amounts of duplication and fragmentation. We needed alignment. We needed people to understand who we were, what we stood for and the key priorities of the company. And we needed them, once they understood that, to get their oars in the water and head in a common direction.” Nassetta traveled all over the world and met with employees. He believed that Hilton employees had good values but that as many times as he asked what the company values were, he got as many different answers. There were so many different value formulations that he “stopped counting when I got to 30 different value statements at our offices.” Nassetta viewed his job, as the CEO, was “to create the right culture, set the tone, the high-level strategy.” To accomplish this in the company Nassetta set up teams around the world to look at their value statements and “boil them down.”
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