Skift Take

With all of the politics and turf-protection habits at play, Carnival CEO Arnold Donald will have a big job on his hands in trying to nurture a more collaborative culture at the world's largest cruise company. Old habits die hard.

Carnival Corp. CEO Arnold Donald is pushing for a “fundamental change in culture” at the struggling cruise behemoth.

With its portfolio of 10 brands in North America, Europe and Asia-Pacific, including Carnival Cruise Lines, Holland America Line, Princess Cruises, Seabourn and Costa Cruises, Carnival Corp. previously allowed its brands to operate independently and they often jealously kept information away from one another.

But, with the company seeking to resurrect its reputation and profits following the Costa Concordia and Carnival Triumph debacles in particular, and following a CEO change in July, Donald is attempting a cultural makeover at the world’s largest cruise company that would be characterized by brands and their leaders “working together, communicating, collaborating,” he said.

By the way Donald described it during Carnival’s fourth quarter earnings call December 19, it sounded as though much of the information-sharing and collaboration would revolve around finding synergies and cost-cutting, although the cultural reset would not be limited to these areas.

Will the brands and their respective management teams be amenable to such changes in the basic ways they operate? Time will tell.

Some of the old guard have been stepping aside or have been pushed out, a development that could assist in kick-starting the new ways of doing things at Carnival.

Here’s how Donald described the new way of doing things at Carnival:

“But with regard to the culture, it is a fundamental change in culture, but is building on things that the leaders in the organization were kind of doing one-off or in pairs occasionally, anyway, and that is collaborating and coordinating, okay?

“And so that is the culture change, though, because the brands were fiercely independent in the past and even protected information from each other. And so it’s absolutely a culture change. Now in terms of the fundamental changes in how we work or the scale of targets and that sort of thing, the reality is we just have scale. So with 78 million passenger cruise days, little tiny changes adds up — add up to significant dollars, tens and tens of millions of dollars and hundreds of millions of dollars.

“And so while they’re small changes, they yield big impact. And by working together, communicating, collaborating, there are so many arenas that the team has already pre-identified.

“And as I mentioned, we’re in the process of sizing those and prioritizing them from a complexity, investment required, time to realization, all your normal things you would apply to prioritize projects and go after them. So there are significant opportunities.”


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Tags: carnival

Photo credit: he headquarters of Carnival Cruise Lines is shown in Doral, Florida, January 17, 2012. Joe Skipper / Reuters

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