I work at AOL. Just saying AOL conjures up tons of thoughts. Aol is associated with disks in the mail, the phrase “You’ve got mail!”, your first internet experience and being finished as a company (sorry gang that’s peoples association). In the four plus years I’ve been at AOL working in the same department I’ve had four CEO’s and five VP’s and over 7,000 people have been laid off from AOL. Its been trying. All this change has been in the name of change. Trying to change the culture and DNA of AOL. Sadly all this change and AOL still conjures up the same disks, phrase and feelings. Its is very, very hard to change a whole companies internal feeling. Its like trying to change ones own behavior. Think about how hard it is to stop smoking, workout or stop eating your favorite foods? Its just very hard to do.
Companies are more similar to living entities that any of us realize. It take real vision, real disipline and real consistancy of effort to make a company change.
Change has to start at the top and filter down. Change agents have to stay at the company. Change agents have to drill down and find the source of the malase or bad DNA and work to change from there. Its not easy and unfortunately often companies do not have time. At AOL I think the change is happening.
I see energy in the young people who work with me. I get the feeling that their is vision and that the rope is finally being pulled in the same direction at the same time. Will AOL change fast enough or to the satisfaction of the external press? I don’t know but I do know we’re making the tough choices.