Case Detail

Case Summary

Washington Mutual (A): A Very Old Bank Can Grow - A Lot!

Case Number: 5-304-506, Year Published: 2006, Revision Date: February 16, 2010

HBS Number: KEL244

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Authors: Robert Dewar; Hayagreeva Rao

Key Concepts

Branding, Compensation, Organizational Culture, Human Resources Management, Customer Service Management, General Management


This case describes the ways in which Washington Mutual preserved and reinforced its brand through two phases of expansion, the first based on acquisition and the second based on organic growth. The Washington Mutual brand is shown to be grounded in a well-designed customer experience. This experience was the result of careful attention by Washington Mutual to hiring policies for its staff, incentives that encouraged entrepreneurship, empowerment of both "store" managers and "sales associates," and a strong culture that valued the community, innovation, fairness in treatment of customers, care for its employees, and high-speed implementation.

Learning Objectives

To realize that true customer/market focus occurs when all decision makers act so as to build a customer experience that builds the company's brand. This implies an alignment of leadership, culture, information systems, incentives, and people.

Number of Pages: 15

Extended Case Information

Teaching Areas: Management, Organizational Behavior, Strategy

Geographic: United States

Industry: Banking

Organization Name: Washington Mutual

Organization Size: Medium

Year of Case: 2003