WORKING FILE: TRADER JOE’S SITE VISIT 2
Three Levels of Culture
To understand the culture of Trader Joe’s as a corporate entity, we must lookthrough three levels of their being (borrowed from Schien):
artifacts, values, and assumptions
. This working file will be divided into those categories.On October 5, 2011 Mark Grumbach, Store Captain at Trader Joe’s Metropolitanin Charlotte, North Carolina gave us a tour of his store and addressed the items that hethought best represented the culture of the organization. His tour was part merchandisingand part “org-chat”—that is he discussed both the traditional aspects of running a grocerystore and discussed the workings of the organization. Being a regular customer of hisstore, I understood most of what he addressed on a personal level; there are few ways tobe more intimately involved with an organization than to be a member of it’s core groupof stakeholders—as a shopper, my dollars reinforce Trader Joe’s raison d’être.
Mark was wearing a floral Hawaiian shirt. His job title is “Captain.” He refers tohis employees as “crew members.” He addressed the customer service bell and justifiedits use over a traditional public address system. Each of these artifacts encourages a ship-like metaphor within the store. As a regular Trader Joe’s customer, I know that thismetaphor is not specific to the Metropolitan location; these are not gimmicks specific to aparticular subgroup of the total Trader Joe’s organization. Ship metaphors tie back to along-held assumption of the vessel as efficient, tidy, a place that encourages teamwork,an entity with forward momentum. Ships, in the modern age (e.g. the age of Trader Joeproper noun versus the age of historical ocean faring exploration) also have an element of