USAA’s Organizaional Culture


By: Ally Knapp

The USAA standing for the United Services Automobile Association a organization for insurance and financial services company that serves the members of the U.S. military families. The USAA’s reps and workers assist with families that are challenged by the war and family member’s who are overseas. Working with and for a company that trains only the  best of the best and understanding all the needs that there costumers have is what USAA does with their employers.

Not only does USAA’s reps and workers have to meet qualifications there are also high standards that have to be met. As key words that are within there mission the words service, loyalty, honesty. As they state in there mission statement “We do this by upholding the highest standards and ensuring that our corporate business activities and individual employee conduct reflect good judgment and common sense, and are consistent with our core values of Service, Loyalty, Honesty and Integrity (2016). ” Working at there highest potential is what this company strives to do.

USSA Standards aligning with the Perspectives of Ethical Decisions, something we discussed in class. This being different methods that companies do to make there company likable and or known for. Foundational Perspective being one of them which is an organization that has explicit code of ethics that are met. This beings something that USAA does. They train only the best and want the best to work for there company and if they do not meet there standards, they don’t except you or want you on there team of excellence. Another ethic that has and is being used within the company is the Situational Perspective which is the ethical decision that should be made by the unique qualities of the situation and empowers employees to make decisions in the moment. This being something that any worker will face. You don’t know what the day or the customers are going to bring to you. So you have to just do the best you possibly can and make irrational decisions on the fly while working. As it was stated in “[We have] a dedication to keeping the decision making at the lowest level of the company,” says Travers of USAA’s approach to answering customer calls. Employees aren’t scripted, and the calls aren’t timed. “There’s a very real recognition at USAA that the company is the relationship that our frontline employees have with our members,” he says (McGregor, 2015).This being a great example of this technique. Understanding your customers needs and concerns is what the USAA strives to do. Wanting to make there experience as beneficial as possible for there customers. Joining the team of USAA, they have what is called a “boot camp” where it introduces its employees to all there challenges and what they faced with there potential military customers.

Standards and expectations are things that have to be met within any company and organization. Four ethical standards if I had my own company and wanted individuals to follow would be respect, hard work ethic, drive, and good communication. These being 4 that I take into my work place and try and do my absolute best at them each and every day. First having the respect for one yourself and two the people you are working with and for is what you should be doing in any environment. You should show them the respect they should be receiving by yourself to be treated the way that you deserve. Obviously going into any new job they don’t know you and how you work. Your first impression is everything. Next is your work ethic and what your going to bring forth to the table. Worth ethic being something that I do my absolute best at day in and day out because that’s always been my mentality and how I have been raised to work. Thirdly drive being the next. You have to have some type of push and drive to do what your doing within the company you are working for. Lastly good communication is the last. Communication is key in any setting. You have to be able to not only talk to your customers but more importantly your boss and the people you work with.

Training these new employees that would be coming into my company and working for me under these expectations that I would hold them accountable for would be a fun time and something I would make fun. I am a person where I like to have fun and I am going to make the work force and where your at working as much fun as possible until you give me a reason not to have fun with you anymore. Obviously working on things that need to be worked on and assist those who do not follow the expectations that are given. As an employer I would hope to not only show these four standards I have in my work place but also see how truly hard I work for what I want and believe in.


(2016). USAA. Retrieved from


McGregor, J. (1,October 2005). Employee innovator: USAA. Fast Company. Retrieved from


Shevory, K. (1, September. 2015). Boot camp for bankers. Deal B%ok. Retrieved from


Fleurke, X. (January 2009). Walking a mile in the shoes of your customers. Business Roundtable

Institute for Corporate Ethics.   Retrieved from



USAA The USAA STANDARDS. Retrieved from


Netflix Case Study

By Torin Wetzel



This case study is meant to analyze Netflix, and their organizational culture. Netflix has a very interesting culture because they give their employees a great deal of freedom, but also select those employees very carefully. Netflix as a company only hires what they call “fully formed adults”, which means putting the company first, realizing the company’s best interests, and being able to communicate. Communication is huge within Netflix because they expect employees to be able to say who they think is doing a good job or not, and describe what is going well with the company and what is not. Being able to understand what is best for the company, even if it means letting goo people go who have talents that are no longer needed. Netflix has a very open environment with its employees, but does it in a way that keeps the company moving very sufficiently.

The seven aspects of Netflix culture are, “Values are what we value, high performance, freedom and responsibility, context not control, highly aligned loosely coupled, pay top of market, and promotions and development” (Hastings). Netflix does not use what they call “nice-sounding values for the company, there values are the actual behaviors and skills that they value in employees. They hire and promote people who exhibit specific values that benefit the company. The nine values that they want their employees to emulate describe how they want the company to run. High performance is another value of Netflix. This value speaks for itself in that every company wants people who work well and have solid performance. Netflix tries to hire “stunning colleges”. They believe that it is not fair to the current workers if they hire someone that is not up to their standard. “The best thing you can do for employees—a perk better than foosball or free sushi—is hire only “A” players to work alongside them. Excellent colleagues trump everything else” (McCord, 2014). This statement is another foundation for how Netflix runs.

Freedom and responsibility are another value help closely by Netflix, and for a very good reason. Freedom comes from responsibility. When a person is seen as a responsible employee, they can have more freedom, because you know they will still get the work done. This ties in with the hiring fully formed adults statement, an adult is supposed to be very responsible and with that comes the freedom that an adult should also receive. The Netflix vacation policy that requires not tracking is an example of the freedom that the employees receive. Context, not control as a value means that manages create environments that do not set binding schedules and harassment, but are loose and goal oriented. At Netflix, the managers do not “control” the employees. Highly aligned, loosely coupled means to have clear goals and trust between teamwork. This is another value that is important to Netflix success because this stresses high performance, with teamwork and a good environment.

“Pay top of the market is core to a high performance culture” (Hastings). This value means to be able to pay a person what they deserve, and what the company can afford. This takes into consideration how effective the employee is in the workplace. People with similar titles may be payed differently because of work ethic or skill. Employees at Netflix should feel as though they are getting paid well for their job in relation to other jobs in the market. Promotions and development is the last value described by Netflix, and focuses on the opportunities for growth and also the cuts that need to be made in certain circumstances. Promotion comes when an employee is outstanding in multiple facets of their work and also is a great role model at Netflix. Development comes from individuals having the opportunities to develop themselves which in turn makes the company better off as a whole.

Netflix culture makes for a successful organization because they take core values of what they want for employees and use them to create and environment that run smooth and causes profit for the company. They do this all while making for a great and enjoyable job for employees. The communication at Netflix is so important, as it should be at many other companies, and that is what helps drive them to the next level. They know what they are looking for in an employee and help the employees that they do hire to develop.

Netflix culture is much different that most of the culture I have been involved with in organizations. Usually, what I have experienced is more of a structured culture, with many rules and regulations. Also, most of the managers I have had are more restrictive of ideas and seem to be shut off to comments regarding the organization. I have experienced some of the seven values talked about with Netflix. The values are what we value is interesting because most organizations I have been a part of have had values. Some of them follow those values in a strict way of some have had very fake values that are just put there because they look good. I have experienced some of the promotion and development value with organizations as well. If you do well with jobs and work usually you will be rewarded and sometimes receive promotions. I believe this value is prominent in most organizations. I believe that I would be a more effective employee under Netflix than previous jobs. I believe this because the way that the culture is formed suits my personality very well. I struggle when hard work does not receive recognition, and I also enjoy freedom in order to get work done. I think that another part of the culture that I would enjoy would be the top-down communication. The fact that it is okay to openly discuss things with your boss and your colleagues. That is a very nice environment to be a part of in the workplace. Also, the vacation policy is very nice.


Hastings, Reed. (2009). Seven Aspects of our Culture. Retrieved October 07, 2016, from

McCord, P. (2014). How Netflix Reinvented HR. Retrieved October 06, 2016, from

(2016). The Woman Who Created Netflix’s Enviable Company Culture. Retrieved October 06, 2016, from








Daivon Barrow


The purpose of this case study is to find the common qualities effective teams, and company’s display. There are numerous of successful organizations, and companies, but they all have different guidelines and structure but have the same goal. Many companies like for their employees to have a flexible work schedule that is accessible for their employees. For this unique case study it is extremely important that we magnify the strengths that some companies use and how effective these strategies are. As many would say there may be some strengths to focus on, but there are also some weakness to analyze within some companies.

During class we had the opportunity to watch a short film of the evolution of Google. As a class we were exposed to information that shared when google first started to how it is a multimillion dollar company today. As we learned more information about Google, the film obtained the purpose of Project Aristotle at google. Project Aristotle landed the easiest way to make a working team successful. Google discovered that psychological safety is one of the major key components. If your team members are safe psychological about working together, and not afraid to take risk for each other then they will be successful. You must have a team that can trust each other, and they are willing to sacrifice for one another. The purpose of project Aristotle was to make everyone feel comfortable around each other. The more comfortable someone may be for their job then the more efficient they can be during the work force. Some unique information that was found from learning the study is the accessibility of the job. As shown in the video google, has a barbershop, fitness center, food court, and different physical activities you can get involved in while still being at work. It allows you to perform at your paste because everything is more adaptable for people. Google tries it very best to eliminate as much stress on their employees so they can be very efficient.

Forming effective work teams are the results after proceeding through with the study. Based whom characteristic skills, work ethic, leadership ability, major corporations prefer to work in teams but successfully conquering a task collectively. The team members are show great effectiveness between each other. They come together with ideas, suggestions, and ways to improve. Together they are effectively finding ideas how to improve or be efficient. From the article “ what Google learned from its quest to build the perfect team” by the New York Time Magazine the author states that the team members would get lunch together and hang out with each other outside of the office. This displays friendship and commitment between each other. They also would compete with each other on student ideas to challenge themselves. That explains the commitment and team work they have for each other.

Even in our class we are broken up into groups to work together to conquer a task. This allows us to be social interactive, it also allows us to work intensively to do something well. This also prepares us for us for a company like Google because we have experience working in a group. As being an athlete this will be a helpful or familiar work style, because athletes have experience working collectively, and also competing to do well.

I agree with both, I believe that the research is accurate. I beli that working in groups is an effective way to be efficient. I also believe that there are important qualities that some need to equip in order to have a successful team. To have a successful team you need someone that has leadership instincts. Working collectively allows you to be exposed to different opinions also it brings up topics of discussion. As a leader you need someone to guide everyone out, motivate them, and also encourage them to do well. I participated in a group project, and we would meet daily. The project was for my public relations class. We would share our new ideas, be a voice for each other, and also help each other out. With me having experience on having my own organization it was brought to me to be the leader of the team. I had experience on being as leader so it wasn’t a challenge. I had everyone accountable for their work, and also for their social characteristics. As a group collectively we got better because we enjoyed each other a lot and wanted to do well. The study finding is similar how I run my organization. We meet collectively weekly, and I expect everyone to have their task done each week. We encourage each other, and complement each other as well. Everyone is assigned to some team, and have some position of leadership by having a task every week. It allows your members to get involved and also it allows them to have a sense of ownership.

Google: Project Aristotle

By: Kenzie Fischer

In order to accomplish difficult tasks and brainstorm new ideas, large firms usually divide their workers into teams. Working together in groups has been proven to be more effective than working individually; assuming you have a productive group that gets along well. What exactly makes an “effective team”? According to (re:Work, 2016) teams are interdependent. The team members plan work, solve problems, make decisions, and review progress in service of a specific project. When Google launched Project Aristotle, they looked at over 100 teams of workers within their own company to figure out what exactly makes an efficient team.

In google-search2012, Google conducted a study called Project Aristotle. The main goal of Project Aristotle was to look at teams and figure out why certain groups worked while others did not. The study included Google’s top employees such as, psychologists, sociologists, and engineers. These employees believed that making the best teams meant combining the best people. The teams soon learned that this was not the case. At first, researchers found no patterns as to what made a team sink or swim; the composition of a team seemed to make no difference. While looking at past research, they continuously found that groups have norms that they followed. Norms are the “traditions, behavioral standards and unwritten rules that govern how we function when we gather” (Duhigg, 2016). When researchers began looking for norms within a group, they found there was inappropriate behavior within the groups. Some said that teammates interrupted each other constantly and that the team leaders would reinforce them by interrupting others themselves. After looking at over 100 groups for more than a year, Project Aristotle’s researchers found that understanding group norms were essential to improving Google’s teams.

In 2008, Harvard conducted a study to see if a group’s success had anything to do with the overall IQ of the group members. They divided over 600 people into small groups and gave them each a series of assignments. Some teams came up with numerous different uses. Other teams just kept describing the same ideas in different ways. What the researchers found was that teams that did well on one study typically did well on all the others. Therefore, teams that did poorly on one assignment seemed to fail at everything. Eventually they found that the success of the group was not dependent on the overall IQ and that a group full of average intelligence members could out- perform groups with all high IQ members (Duhigg, 2016).

Researchers soon found an important trend within the high performing groups in Project Aristotle; they all had high psychological safety. Psychological safety is defined as “a sense of confidence that the team will not embarrass, reject, or punish someone for speaking up” (Duhigg, 2016). With this discovery, everyone just suddenly understood. Another characteristic that was found to lead groups to success was their connection with each other. For example; one of the team’s leaders, Matt Sakaguchi, confessed that he has been struggling with cancer. This led others feel comfortable enough to bring up their own personal issues, which led to the connection with one another. This then led to more success within the team.

I found the results from Project Aristotle fascinating. I am not surprised that team members that have a connection will out- perform those who do not. Some people have that connection, and others just don’t. What really caught my attention was the example of Team A and Team B. It was difficult for me to choose what team I would want to join. I eventually settled for Team B. I think it is important to stay on track and get everything done that needs to be done, but I found that it would be hard for me to participate in Group A. Like the studies found, I would be more comfortable in a group with people I have a good connection with and who I would not be afraid to share my ideas with.



Duhigg, C. (2016). What Google Learned From Its Quest to Build the Perfect Team. Retrieved October 02, 2016, from

National Geographic – Inside Google (High-Definition). (n.d.). Retrieved October 02, 2016, from

Re:Work – Guide: Understand team effectiveness. (n.d.). Retrieved October 02, 2016, from

Case Study 2 (Google)

Torin Wetzel




In this case study, the way groups worked with each other were looked at as well as the organization of google. This study, Project Aristotle, looked at effected ways to get work done through group work in the workplace. It compared and contrasted many different styles and different people to try and find the best group work possible. Project Aristotle started in 2012 as a way to form the “perfect team”.

The purpose of this study was to find out what a team that would perform very well in the work place would consist of for google. They were trying to figure out why some teams performed better than other teams and also seemed more satisfied with their work than other teams. The initial response was very blurry and didn’t give a definitive result. It was very hard for them to see a pattern with these employees to tell why they worked well with each other or vice versa.

After initial trial and error they looked deeper at what made the successful groups work. They saw that the some successful teams were friends away from work, but some were successful with people whom knew little about each other in the group outside of work. They continued studying and finally came to a consensus about why the groups were performing the way they were. They found a trend with psychological safety. This is where people feel safe to express their opinions and ideas and also get a chance to do so. No matter whether these people in the successful groups knew each other outside of work or not, they all felt safe in their group because of the atmosphere in the room. These groups showed great respect for one another and they found that every person in the group was getting talking time and a say on every topic that they had an opinion on. This helped to explain the fact that it didn’t matter if people were friends in other teams or if individuals in the other group may have been a little smarter. The whole is bigger than a couple of pieces and parts, and the groups that performed the best had great unity and safety.

These results mean that putting the right people in a group can make for a very valuable team. It was very enlightening to know that groups can work that efficiently if working the right way. Groups and teams are involved in everyday life, and if you can work well with others you are valuable. I believe that they study’s findings are very accurate. I know that if I am in a group project for a class and have all of my buddies in my group we will put work off and not do a great job on the work because we will be talking and doing other things. To form a team that has great security and safety to it without having just a bunch of your friends is hard, but doable, it just takes the right personalities. I’ve been on teams in sports where it has been awkward and hard for people to speak up because of other personalities on the team or even the coach. I’ve also been on teams where we are like a family and everyone has a say with everything, and those teams always are more fun to play on and usually succeed more than the other teams. These study findings would make me be a leader that is very open to everyone’s opinion and to give everyone a say and feel welcomed. Having everyone feel like they are part of the team and that they mean something to the team is very important.

Duhigg, C. (2016, February 28). What Google Learned From Its Quest to Build the Perfect Team. New York Times. Retrieved September 30, 2016, from

National Geographic – Inside Google (High-Definition). (n.d.). Retrieved September 30, 2016, from

Re:Work – Guide: Understand team effectiveness. (n.d.). Retrieved September 30, 2016, from



Google’s Teams Through the Looking Glass

By Reagan Wheeler

Photo Credit:

This case study will look at the well-known organization, Google (National Geo…, n.d.) and its Project Aristotle. It will describe common qualities contained in effective teams and how I myself have experienced those qualities when working in a group or team. I will then critically analyze the strengths and weaknesses of the styles of management that I have experienced.


Project Aristotle began in 2012 and was conducted by Abeer Dubey, who was a manager in Google’s People Analytics Division. The purpose of the study was to determine why some of the organization’s teams succeeded and why some of them didn’t. Google realized that teams are fundamental in an organization. They wanted to look at their own company and see which employees worked best together in order to have that strong team aspect (Duhigg, 2016).

Researchers looked at many different things such as, how often did teammates talk and spend time together outside of the office, did they have similar educational backgrounds or the same hobbies. They also studied which teams were going beyond their department goals, if gender had anything to do with their success and how long certain teams would stay together. What they found was that is was pretty impossible to determine if creating teams showed any pattern of success. They saw that the data they gathered couldn’t show if specific qualities made a difference.

The highly ranked teams of Google were made up of people who were friends outside or work, had different types of hierarchal structure, people who were practically strangers and were all completely different. So there really was no pattern for the researchers to look at. Later on in the study, they came across something called group norms. It was discovered that influencing group norms was the way to improving the teams inside Google. Even after discovering this, they were still stuck. Now, instead of having no patterns, they had too many (Duhigg, 2016).

These results mean that when forming a team there are many different things that contribute to its success. Sometimes the norms don’t make sense and sometimes they do. So it will be hard at times when trying to form effective teams. A team needs to take into account what type of group they are or want to be. I think an effective type of group is an emergent group because if everyone has shared interests and expertise then each person will have something to contribute. Each person will have ideas and will be engaged in the project at hand. An effective function for this type of small group would be quality improvement. This function determines ways to improve and organization in its effectiveness, efficiency and productivity (Basics of Quality…, n.d. ).

I think the findings from Project Aristotle were accurate in a lot of ways. I do think that there are so many patterns when it comes to teams that it’s really not possible to say what makes them effective. In my opinion, the qualities that make a team effective are going to vary with every team I’m in. They are always going to be changing.

A time when I felt that I had been a part of an effective team was my sophomore year of college at Ashland University. I was in a group project for one of my communication classes and we all met to talk about what we needed to do. We assigned each person with one part of the project to research and type up. Then once everyone had done their part we would each post it into one Google doc. After that, we met again as a group and went over everything, correcting, editing, and giving suggestions on how to make it better for out presentation. We did very well with the orientation, brainstorming, emergence and reinforcement of our team. I think that’s why it was so effective.

A way the findings would influence how I decide things if I was leading a work team is when I’m determining what dynamics are effective (Re:Work…, n.d.). I need to make sure I have an effective dynamic or things could go wrong. For example, if I was too overpowering or bossy in the group then the other members might not put in any effort. I would make sure that there was a high level of dependability within the team and make sure everyone knows what’s going on. I think all of these things would help my team be more effective.


Basics of Quality Improvement. (n.d.). Retrieved September 30, 2016, from

Duhigg, C. (2016). What Google Learned From Its Quest to Build the Perfect Team. Retrieved September 30, 2016, from

National Geographic – Inside Google (High-Definition). (n.d.). Retrieved September 30, 2016, from

Re:Work – Guide: Understand team effectiveness. (n.d.). Retrieved September 30, 2016, from

Coming Up With the Perfect Team: Google’s Project Aristotle

by Tony Snider

To accomplish large tasks or brainstorm new brilliant ideas companies often turn to working in teams.  Working together in teams or groups has many benefits; given you have a productive group that works well together.  At Google, they conducted a study titled “Project Aristotle” that looked at over 100 teams of workers within Google itself trying to understand what exactly makes an efficient team.   The majority of the work done at Google is done in teams, so the importance of finding out what worked best in terms of teamwork for them was imperative.

Project Aristotle

Google launched Project Aristotle in 2012, shortly after completing a similar study in “Project Oxygen”. Project Oxygen looked to see what makes a great manager.  After the success of Project Oxygen, Google applied many of the same methods to discover the secrets of making the most effective teams at Google (Understanding Team Effectiveness, 2016).  The atmosphere at Google is very relaxed, even a bit revolutionary.  With this relaxed atmosphere and emphasis on worker satisfaction, a main aspect of the study was to determine if this atmosphere was beneficial or hurtful to work production and the generation of new and revolutionary ideas.  This project studied many different types of employees as well; such as engineers, psychologists, and sociologists.  Project Aristotle’s researchers began by reviewing a half-century of academic studies looking at how teams worked.  They brought up questions like whether group participants worked best when they had similar hobbies and backgrounds and whether it was best if they were all outgoing or all

Photo Credit –

  No matter how the researchers arranged their data, at first it was almost impossible to find any patterns or evidence that the composition of the team made any difference in their work production.   This led Google to start looking in different directions, specifically toward norms.  Norms can be unspoken or openly acknowledged, but their influence is often profound.  This means that some employees may behave in certain ways as individuals, but when they gather with others they may act differently.  This often spurs groupthink, which is when employees will not express their own ideas to the group because it may go against what everyone thinks and they just want to make the work go smoothly (Duhigg, 2016).  So Project Aristotle’s researchers began searching through their data looking for norms.   The project’s results showed that an effective team was not necessarily scouting to see who should be on the team, but figuring out how well specific people meshed and worked together.  Psychological safety was the main factor discovered in Project Aristotle.  This showed how employees wanted to feel safe enough around their co-workers before exposing themselves and giving out their ideas.  This meant that for a team to truly be successful it was up to the employees to get comfortable enough around one another to be vulnerable with each other with expressing their ideas (Schlossberg, 2016).  Following psychological safety, Project Aristotle’s main factors to a successful group was dependability, structure and clarity, meaning and impact.


Critical Analysis

Google itself started in a small garage in California almost 20 years ago.  It was started by two college buddies that had a vision, and that weren’t afraid to express their ideas to one another (Inside Google, 2016).  Understanding how the whole company started only solidifies my agreement towards those findings of Project Aristotle.  Because the two originators of Google (Larry Page and Sergey Brin) were comfortable around one another and were able to openly express their thoughts to each other, Google was able to flourish from just a small company operating out of a garage to one of the most profitable companies in the world today.

Had Larry Page and Sergey Brin been chosen by a board or selection committee to come up with a revolutionary idea based on who they were or how similar they are, Google probably would have never began.  But since these two were genuinely close with one another and had psychological safety, Google was able to be born from their minds.  I feel that Project Aristotle was very successful at being able to point out the main outlier for what makes a successful group.  Although the project did not come away with any specific algorithm or addition of types of workers that create the best groups, they did find solid evidence at what makes groups work together the best, even if it was ironically evident in the beginning of the company itself with the relationship between Larry Page and Sergey Brin.


Duhigg, C. (2016). What Google Learned From Its Quest to Build the Perfect Team. Retrieved September 30, 2016, from
Re:Work – Guide: Understand team effectiveness. (n.d.). Retrieved September 30, 2016, from
National Geographic – Inside Google (High-Definition). (n.d.). Retrieved September 30, 2016, from
Schlossberg, M. (2016). Google experiment reveals the single most important quality for teamwork. Retrieved September 30, 2016, from