Intentionally defining the culture at Henny Penny
Henny Penny is a food service equipment manufacturing business based out of Eaton, Ohio. Started in the 1950s by current chairman’s father, Jack Cobb, Henny Penny has long been a loyal and friendly organization with long‑tenured employees. The strong employee base has proven to be a competitive differentiator for them; Henny Penny won a large contract after a client visited their manufacturing plant and was impressed by how friendly and attentive the line workers were.
When Think Shift began working with Henny Penny, the company’s culture was strongly loyalty based. A sense of loyalty and genuine respect toward leadership would often silence difficult conversations, as they were perceived as disrespectful. This began interfering with the senior team’s ability to evolve the business. The lack of transparency (even well‑meaning by not wanting to offend each other) stopped the organization from evolving intentionally.
While Henny Penny was a very successful company, their established pattern of success had made employees complacent and stuck in old ways. When leadership introduced new people or tried new ideas, it resulted in clashes between the old guard and the new. This slowed the organization down.
Change was clearly needed. But Henny Penny was still a great place to work; employees worried that, in order to grow, they would have to change what they liked best about themselves and what they liked about the company.
In business, if you aren’t changing, you’re sinking. But that doesn’t mean you have to abandon your organization’s heart. Because Henny Penny doesn’t have their culture defined, it was harder to intentionally preserve what they liked and help employees become comfortable with change.
We took Henny Penny through an “Aligning Brand and Culture” process. During that process, we identified their company’s unique strengths and the weaknesses – or “cultural shadows” – that came as a result of those strengths.
Below is the step‑by‑step process that we guided Henny Penny’s senior team through:
- Identified Henny Penny’s cultural strengths and shadows
We specifically addressed how to mitigate the shadow weaknesses without diluting the strengths
- Created an intentional blueprint for the culture and strategy
- Built culture into the strategic and operating plan
- Implemented empowered decision-making within the employee groups
Henny Penny now has an established, strong culture that encourages debate and change. They have a three‑year strategic plan with specific destination points that will guide the company through times of change and comfort employees during periods of growth.