Nike has always been a game changer. It changed the footwear industry. It changed the way we look at sporting footwear and later sports apparel. Nike changed the premise of advertising with its thought provoking concepts in commercials and smart copywriting in print. In many ways, Nike changed the perception we had of a global brand. From setting rules of the game by signing unprecedented sponsorship deals to endorsing some of the biggest names in various sports as its ambassadors, from endorsing technology even when its existing footwear series were doing well to showing the path ahead for others to follow, Nike has been a success story that one can only envy.
Much like the company itself and its products, Nike management style is also one of a kind. Let us delve deep into the Nike management style to try and understand at least one facet of the company’s resounding success over the years.
What is the Nike Management Style?
If one were to put it simply, using a term, then Nike management style can be called situational. It is not authoritarian and yet it values the traditional hierarchic style of leadership. It is not entirely participative but it endorses the bubble-up approach of conceptualization and decision making. While the longstanding philosophy of the company has been to challenge the preset perceptions, it holds on to certain values that are indeed righteous. At the same time, the situational leadership provided by CEO’s like Mark Parker has lead to certain transformations that have ensured Nike the top place in the global footwear and sports apparel industry.
Nike management style is intuitive. That is perhaps the best term to describe all the chaos that goes on inside the offices, boardrooms and labs. If you visit a Nike factory or even spend an hour touring its Beaverton headquarters, you will enjoy a degree of calmness and smooth modus operandi that very few companies can manage but that is only because of the harmony instilled by the management and the various leaders of different departments and teams. Everyone knows their job but no one is complacent. The brand has been successful throughout with most of its products and the stats are there to prove that. But that hasn’t lead the company to institutionalize what can only be called a formula for success.
Consistent innovation, challenging the traditions and trying to do things differently for the betterment of the products, the people using the products and the world at large have been the hallmarks of Nike management style. So every employee who is otherwise skilled to get her or his job done, is also tasked with the responsibility to contribute something more, to find out if there is something better and to develop oneself as well as the company in any which way one can.
Pros & Cons of the Nike Management Style
As Mark Parker, CEO of Nike, puts it, change is seen as a challenge. It is seen as an obstruction. It is seen as something that can destabilize everything and when the going is good, no one likes any destabilizing agent. Tradition has a way of instilling fear of change. That is exactly what Mark Parker had changed when he took charge in 2006. He instilled the practice of endorsing change and actually bringing in change. Anyone or any company that has been doing well will try to stick to the tested formula and will keep doing things the same way. That doesn’t work in a world which is getting increasingly globalized, more connected and is changing at an unprecedented pace. If a company ceases to change, then it may quickly become irrelevant.
That is the biggest advantage of the Nike management style. Even those who are averse to change because they are safe and rather complacent in their secured positions doing what they do best and have been doing well, have been made to innovate. A fear of change is basically a love for comfort. Not many people like to delve beyond their comfort zone and that is exactly what makes most companies redundant and irrelevant after a point in time. It is the same story with people or successful professionals who don’t change. Mark Parker is someone who doesn’t believe putting a swoosh mark on a product will make it sell well by itself. He believes in pushing the boundaries and doing something that others are not and possibly are not even thinking about.
There are marked similarities between Mark Parker and Steve Jobs when it comes to change. But Nike management style is not even remotely as autocratic as Steve Jobs’ was. There is a flipside to Nike management style. Not everyone is capable of change and not every change works out well. So one has to be willing to take that risk; for only risks can pave the way for bigger rewards.