Theme #1: How Does the Organizational Culture Fit the Organizational Structure?
Definition and Importance of Culture, as Well as Models and Types
Strategic Leadership and Decision Making
One of the primary responsibilities of strategic leaders is to create and maintain the organizational characteristics that reward and encourage collective effort. Perhaps the most fundamental of these is organizational culture. But what do we really mean by organizational culture? What influence does it have on an organization? How does one go about building, influencing or changing an organization’s culture?
THE IMPACT OF CULTURE
Why is culture so important to an organization? Edgar Schein, an MIT Professor of Management and author of Organizational Culture and Leadership: A Dynamic View, suggests that an organization’s culture develops to help it cope with its environment. Today, organizational leaders are confronted with many complex issues during their attempts to generate organizational achievement in VUCA environments. A leader’s success will depend, to a great extent, upon understanding organizational culture.
Schein contends that many of the problems confronting leaders can be traced to their inability to analyze and evaluate organizational cultures. Many leaders, when trying to implement new strategies or a strategic plan leading to a new vision, will discover that their strategies will fail if they are inconsistent with the organization’s culture. A CEO, SES, political appointee, or flag officer who comes into an organization prepared to “shake the place up” and institute sweeping changes, often experiences resistance to changes and failure. Difficulties with organizational transformations arise from failures to analyze an organization’s existing culture.
WHAT IS ORGANIZATIONAL CULTURE?
There is no single definition for organizational culture. The topic has been studied from a variety of perspectives ranging from disciplines such as anthropology and sociology, to the applied disciplines of organizational behavior, management science, and organizational communication. Some of the definitions are listed below:
A set of common understandings around which action is organized, . . . finding expression in language whose nuances are peculiar to the group (Becker and Geer 1960).
A set of understandings or meanings shared by a group of people that are largely tacit among members and are clearly relevant and distinctive to the particular group which are also passed on to new members (Louis 1980).
A system of knowledge, of standards for perceiving, believing, evaluating and acting . . . that serve to relate human communities to their environmental settings (Allaire and Firsirotu 1984).
The deeper level of basic assumptions and beliefs that are: learned responses to the group’s problems of survival in its external environment and its problems of internal integration; are shared by members of an organization; that operate unconsciously; and that define in a basic “taken -for-granted” fashion in an organization’s view of itself and its environment (Schein 1988).
Any social system arising from a network of shared ideologies consisting of two components: substance-the networks of meaning associated with ideologies, norms, and values; and forms-the practices whereby the meanings are expressed, affirmed, and communicated to members (Trice and Beyer 1984).
This sampling of definitions represents the two major camps that exist in the study of organizational culture and its “application strategies.” The first camp views culture as implicit in social life. Culture is what naturally emerges as individuals transform themselves into social groups as tribes, communities, and ultimately, nations. The second camp represents the view that culture is an explicit social product arising from social interaction either as an intentional or unintentional consequence of behavior. In other words, culture is comprised of distinct observable forms (e.g., language, use of symbols, ceremonies, customs, methods of problem solving, use of tools or technology, and design of work settings) that groups of people create through social interaction and use to confront the broader social environment. (Wuthnow and Witten 1988). This second view of culture is most relevant to the analysis and evaluation of organizational culture and to cultural change strategies that leaders can employ to improve organizational performance.
BEHAVIOR AND ARTIFACTS
We can also characterize culture as consisting of three levels (Schein 1988). The most visible level is behavior and artifacts. This is the observable level of culture, and consists of behavior patterns and outward manifestations of culture: perquisites provided to executives, dress codes, level of technology utilized (and where it is utilized), and the physical layout of work spaces. All may be visible indicators of culture, but difficult to interpret. Artifacts and behavior also may tell us what a group is doing, but not why. One cartoon which captures this aspect shows two executives sitting at their desks in an office. Both have large billed black and white checked hats. One is saying to the other, “I don’t know how it started, either. All I know is that it’s part of our corporate culture.”
At the next level of culture are values.Values underlie and to a large extent determine behavior, but they are not directly observable, as behaviors are. There may be a difference between stated and operating values. People will attribute their behavior to stated values.
ASSUMPTIONS AND BELIEFS
To really understand culture, we have to get to the deepest level, the level of assumptions and beliefs. Schein contends that underlying assumptions grow out of values, until they become taken for granted and drop out of awareness. As the definition above states, and as the cartoon illustrates, people may be unaware of or unable to articulate the beliefs and assumptions forming their deepest level of culture.
To understand culture, we must understand all three levels, a difficult task. One additional aspect complicates the study of culture: the group or cultural unit which “owns” the culture. An organization may have many different cultures or subcultures, or even no discernible dominant culture at the organizational level. Recognizing the cultural unit is essential to identifying and understanding the culture.
Organizational cultures are created, maintained, or transformed by people. An organization’s culture is, in part, also created and maintained by the organization’s leadership. Leaders at the executive level are the principle source for the generation and re-infusion of an organization’s ideology, articulation of core values and specification of norms. Organizational values express preferences for certain behaviors or certain outcomes. Organizational norms express behaviors accepted by others. They are culturally acceptable ways of pursuing goals. Leaders also establish the parameters for formal lines of communication and message content-the formal interaction rules for the organization. Values and norms, once transmitted through the organization, establish the permanence of the organization’s culture.
WHAT RELEVANCE DOES ORGANIZATIONAL CULTURE HAVE TO LEADERS IN FEDERAL AGENCIES?
One of the most perplexing issues facing leaders within the Department of Defense and other agencies of the federal government can be classified under one rubric-change. Government organizations’ responses to events such as the “re-invention of government”, downsizing and defense conversion, shrinking operating budgets, acquisition reform, and the military’s expanded role in operations other than war are requiring leaders to make course corrections. Leaders in these organizations are being challenged to think differently, to:
· Reconceptualize the role their organization plays in government
· Reconceptualize, the goals of their organization, and
· Reconceptualize how people in their organizations will work together to achieve these goals.
The term reconceptualize is emphasized here because the 21st century challenges for strategic leaders in this country involve interpreting what appears to be the same world in radically different ways. For example, not only must the Department of Defense work to make “jointness” achieve its potential, it must also reconceptualize how it can effectively operate with domestic and foreign civilian agencies in activities other than war. So DOD’s goals of providing global deterrence and warfighting capability must be reconceptualized into simultaneously providing the capability for coalition building, peacekeeping, and humanitarian operations.
Strategic leaders have an additional set of challenges. They have to create the means and the opportunities to infuse their employees with new ways of looking at themselves and their capabilities. Leaders’ new ideologies and values need to be communicated effectively, internalized by employees, and then translated into productive methods of thinking and working. The useful techniques for overcoming these challenges fall within the domains of evaluating and transforming organizational cultures.
ORGANIZATIONAL CULTURE IS ALSO A SYNTHESIS OF SUBCULTURES
Sociologists Gary Fine and Sherryl Kleinman discuss how distinct societies are composites of interacting subcultures rather than a single overarching culture. Organizations consist of subgroups that have specific characteristics and a sense of identification. Within organizations, people can easily classify themselves and others into various social categories or groups based on identification with their primary work group, occupational or professional skills, union membership, or age cohort. (Ouchi 1980, and Ashforth and Mael 1989). Subgroups in organizations can and do create subcultures that comprise specific networks of meaning; yet, at the same time, they remain associated with the ideologies and values of the organization’s leadership. For example, at a macro level the culture that is attributed to the Department of Defense comprises the distinct cultures of the different military services and the corps of civil servants assigned to each service agency (Builder 1989). A closer examination of each service culture reveals still greater cultural differentiation among occupational specialties, specific units within the service, and between line and staff personnel. Yet all of these subcultures adhere to the core ideologies, values and norms of the DOD.
Numerous studies of organizational culture have highlighted that the formation and maintenance of culture requires interpersonal interaction within subgroups. For example, research led by Meryl Louis (Louis, Posner, and Powell 1983) demonstrated the benefits of subgroup interaction to newcomers “learning the ropes” of the jobs. Survey respondents in their first job experience reported that the three most important socialization aids were:
· Interaction with peers
· Interaction with their supervisor
· Interaction with senior co-workers.
Interaction with peers on the job was viewed as most important in helping newcomers becoming effective employees. Interaction is important for the acculturation of newcomers. However, to get a grasp on how cultures are formed and promulgated we need to ask: “what is the content of interpersonal interaction in work settings?”
Research conducted by John VanMaanan and Steven Barley (1984) provides some insight to this question. They discovered that the content of the interaction is behavioral and cognitive in nature. During initial interactions with newcomers, the established occupational community transmits to new members those shared occupational practices (including norms and roles), values, vocabularies and identities-all examples of the explicit social products that are indicative of culture in organizations. These findings were reinforced by Sonja Sackmann’s research on subcultures in a medium sized conglomerate in the United States. She found that subcultures were found to form on the basis of functional domains; principally in their biased knowledge of events in the organization, in their biased explanations of cause and effect relationships, and in their patterns of behavior. The conglomerate’s production division consisted of three subcultures: electronics production, shop floor production, and product inspection. Sackmann reported:
Each subgroup was influenced by the nature of its particular work. This “local” orientation also differentiated each group from the others. All three groupings clearly distinguished between “we” and “them”. This distinction was supported by my observations of them. They dressed differently, and they worked in distinctly different work spaces that were furnished differently. They took separate breaks during the day, and the tone in which they interacted varied it its degree of roughness. The electronics group talked about “job security,” “a small company,” and “health and dental insurance.” The shop floor production group talked about “more work,” “upgrade of assembly,” and “being in control of the job.” [Discussion] themes in the shop floor production group were oriented toward people, growth in the division/company, and strategy. The inspection group mentioned an “expanded inspection department,” “improvements in quality control,” the “quality control system,” or “partnership.” Some [other discussion] themes in the group were growth of the division/company and orientation toward people (Sackmann 1992).
Organizations do not, however, always have homogeneous subcultures. The explicit social products produced by subcultures within organizations can be widely diverse and even result in countercultures. Such was the case of the Army Air Forces as its early proponents, such as Brig. General Billy Mitchell, tried to assert the value of airpower against the resistance of the traditional warfighting cultures of the Army and the Navy. The culmination of the airpower counter culture’s assertiveness, both through word and deed resulted in the formation of the Air Force as a separate service in 1947. Similar examples of military counter cultures also exist in the Navy (e.g., Admiral Rickover’s nuclear submarine counterculture) and the Army (e.g., General Hutton’s skunkworks that created the armed helicopter)(Zald and Berger 1978).
In a more contemporary example, researchers Joanne Martin and Caren Siehl from Stanford University (1983) conducted an analysis of the events and stories related to John Delorean’s tenure as division head at General Motors. They concluded that Delorean created a subculture counter to the corporate GM culture based in the core values of loyalty, hierarchy, and conformity. Executives were expected to show deferential respect for authority and accept deferential treatment from subordinates; openly express loyalty to the corporation; and to be conservative in their choices of wardrobe and office decoration.
Delorean took steps to create a counter culture that would try to force innovations when he could not get his ideas accepted by his superiors. Capitalizing on the support of his followers, Delorean and his people expressed a new culture with an alternative set of core values, preferring productivity to deference, objective measures of performance to subjective measures of conformity, and independence to blind loyalty. They dressed in contemporary styles, redecorated their offices in bright bold colors and modern furniture, and discarded GM’s bureaucratic procedures for streamlined decision making processes. Delorean also refused to participate in the ceremonies and rituals of deference that were widely practiced in the corporation. As an ultimate rejection of GM’s core values, Delorean attacked a GM icon, the Corvair (before Ralph Nader) for faulty construction, its unsafe performance and persistent maintenance problems. For a while, Delorean was able to maintain a delicate balance within the dominant culture’s latitude of tolerance, but eventually met with disfavor; he was asked to leave the company and the counter culture disintegrated.
These examples illustrate that countercultures can have both productive and unproductive outcomes. Perhaps the key to a counterculture’s success (i.e., the promulgation of its ideology, values and norms) is the group’s ability to demonstrate how its idiosyncrasies are consonant with the core ideologies, values and norms of the dominant culture. The counter cultures in the military services still possessed the ethos of warfighters, albeit through different forms of warfighting technology. Overtime, the strategic bomber, the nuclear submarine, and the attack helicopter were embraced by their respective service cultures. The Delorean analysis illustrates how counter cultures can be dysfunctional and ultimately extinguished when they advocate a complete rejection of the dominant culture’s ideology, values, and norms.
THE SYMBIOSIS BETWEEN THE ORGANIZATION’S OVERALL CULTURE AND ITS SUBCULTURES
Some people may debate which comes first in an organization: the organizational culture or the organization’s subcultures. The question that is relevant to this chapter is how do the ideologies, values, and norms of subcultures compliment the organizational culture advocated by leadership? Explaining this relationship requires an understanding that cultures provide members with a reliable means to interpret a highly ambiguous environment. It is the leader’s responsibility to specify the features of the environment that are relevant to the organization and then provide the supporting assumptions and rationale for its operating strategies.
The leader’s cultural messages should address ambiguities that are beyond the scope of any organizational subculture to explain to employees. Returning to Sonja Sackmann’s research with a U.S. conglomerate, she found that the top management team “defined and framed the slice of reality in which organizational members behaved in their role as employees.” Top management consistently made highly visible business and personnel decisions that reinforced the business’ ideologies, values and norms for success. Her interviews throughout the organization revealed that the functional subcultures shared the top manager’s conceptualizations of how tasks were accomplished in the organization; how employees could advance; the ways employees related to each other; the ways adaptation and change were accomplished; and how new knowledge was acquired and perpetuated. The bottom line is that distinct subcultures in the organization were united in their understanding of how they had to perform to produce successful organizational outcomes.
Sackmann’s findings provide important insight for leaders who are trying to influence organizational culture in light of the potential influence of organizational subcultures. Leaders should recognize that their cultural messages should specifically address cultural ambiguities associated with subculture practices within the organization, and limit their attempts to eliminate distinctions that are important to subculture’s identities. In other words, leaders have a better chance of creating or transforming an organizational cultureif they accept and foster productive organizational subcultures and consistently communicate how employees must perform in order for the organization to achieve its objectives.
Cultural change then relies on leaders’ communication techniques that cross subcultural boundaries and carry messages about ideologies, values and norms that can be internalized by all employees. Memos and vision statements cannot achieve all of these objectives. Leaders, however, have a variety of sophisticated cultural communication techniques at their disposal to link subcultures to overarching cultural objectives of their organizations.
CULTURAL FORMS AS LINKING MECHANISMS
Cultural forms function as the linking mechanism by which networks of understanding develop among employees. (Trice, 1988) The cultural forms shown in the table on pages 293-94 act as a medium for communicating ideologies, values, and norms. Cultural forms enable leaders to transmit messages about desirable culture to influence thinking and ways of behaving. Cultural forms also address the emotional aspects of organizations that are commonly referred to as cohesion or camaraderie. Organizational scholars Janice Beyer and Harrison Trice elaborate on this point:
Cultural forms not only aid sensemaking through the meanings they convey; they also aid the sensemaking process through the emotional reassurances they provide that help people persist in their coping efforts. Forms provide a concrete anchoring point, even if the meaning they carry are vague and only imperfectly transmitted….Also many cultural forms involve the expression of emotion and, by this venting of emotions, help people to cope with stress.
Federal agencies are replete with cultural forms that serve these purposes. However the challenges facing strategic leaders of these agencies involve creating and orchestrating cultural forms that can foster change and have longevity beyond their tenure. Cultural forms that have longevity by their nature such as rites and ceremonies reaffirm the organization’s core ideologies, values and norms.
HOW CAN LEADERS DETECT DESIRABLE AND UNDESIRABLE CHARACTERISTICS OF ORGANIZATIONAL CULTURE?
Productive cultural change will occur if leaders correctly analyze the organization’s existing culture, and evaluate it against the cultural attributes needed to achieve strategic objectives. Consequently, leaders must first possess a clear understanding of the strategic objectives for their organization and identify the actions needed to reach those objectives. These two tasks by themselves are difficult, particularly for the federal agencies that are experiencing volatile rates of change and reorientation. Nevertheless, without these specifications, any cultural transformation is a blind exercise.
Next conduct an analysis of the organizations existing ideologies, values and norms. Two critical questions that leaders should ask are: (1) Are existing explanations of cause and effect relationships, and acceptable beliefs and behaviors applicable to the organization’s achievement of strategic objectives? (2) Are organizational members facing ambiguities about the external environment and internal work processes that can only be clarified by organizational leadership?
FORMULATING STRATEGIES FOR TRANSFORMING CULTURES IN ORGANIZATIONS
Strategic leadership needs to be transformational if it is to serve the organization. Transformational leaders must operate from a foundation of high morality and ethical practices and
A List of Definitions that Distinguish
Frequently Studied Cultural Forms
|Rite||Relatively elaborate, dramatic, planned sets of activities that consolidates various forms of cultural expressions into one event, which is carried out through social interactions, usually for the benefit of an audience.|
|Ceremonial||A system of several rites connected with a single occasion or event.|
|Ritual||A standardized, detailed set of techniques and behaviors that manage anxieties, but seldom produce intended, technical consequences of practical importance.|
|Myth||A dramatic narrative of imagined events, usually used to explain origins of transformations of something . Also, an unquestioned belief about the practical benefits of certain techniques and behaviors that is not supported by demonstrated facts.|
|Saga||An historical narrative describing the unique accomplishments of a group and its leaders-usually in heroic terms.|
|Legend||A handed-down narrative of some wonderful event that is based in history but has been embellished with fictional details.|
|Story||A narrative based on true events-often a combination of truth and fiction|
|Folktale||A completely fictional narrative.|
|Symbol||Any object, act, event, quality, or relation that serves as a vehicle for conveying meaning, usually by representing another thing.|
|Language||A particular form or manner in which members of a group use vocal sounds and written signs to convey meanings to each other.|
|Gesture||Movements of parts of the body used to express meanings.|
|Physical||Those things than surround people physically setting and provide them with immediate sensory stimuli as they carry out culturally expressive activities.|
|Artifact||Material objects manufactured by people to facilitate culturally expressive activities.|
Adapted from Trice, 1984.
have a fundamental understanding of the highly complex factors that support and make possible collective effort in an organization. They must personally act in accord with productive values and beliefs, and they must teach others to do the same. They must promulgate the culture. The key method strategy leaders should follow to transform cultures is to teach symbolically. This type of strategy involves the artful crafting of new stories, new symbols, new traditions, and even new humor so that the ambiguities surrounding organizational life can be productively managed by all members of the organization. Without collective understanding-shared networks of revised meaning- the new ways of acting and thinking cannot be internalized by organizational members.
Culture is deep seated and difficult to change, but leaders can influence or manage an organization’s culture. It isn’t easy, and it cannot be done rapidly, but leaders can have an effect on culture. Schein outlines some specific steps leaders can employ:
· What leaders pay attention to, measure and control. Something as simple as what is emphasized or measured, over time, can have an effect on an organization’s culture. One example of this is an emphasis on form over substance. If leaders pay more attention to form, an organizational culture can develop where people start to believe that the substance of a recommendation is less important than the way it is presented. One can recall when more attention was paid to the format of viewgraphs used in a briefing than what was said; what we characterize as “eyewash.”
· Where do you think people will focus their effort once it becomes accepted that a slick presentation is what the leaders are looking for? How could you go about changing that aspect of the organization’s culture? Consider cultural assumptions and beliefs underlying a “zero defects” organizational mentality. “You must always be perfect; mistakes aren’t allowed.” If this assumption reflects a dysfunctional aspect of an organization’s culture, how would you go about changing that perception?
· Leader reactions to critical incidents and organizational crises. The way leaders react to crises says a lot about the organization’s values, norms and culture. Crises, by their nature, bring out the organization’s underlying core values. Often, this is where rhetoric becomes apparent. Reactions to crises are normally highly visible, because everyone’s attention is focused on the incident or situation. Disconnects between actions and words will usually be apparent, and actions always speak louder than words. Additionally, a crisis not only brings a great deal of attention, it also generates a great deal of emotional involvement on the part of those associated with the organization, particularly if the crisis threatens the organization’s survival. This increases the potential for either reinforcing the existing culture, or leading to a change in the culture. Such a crisis can provide an opportunity for a leader to influence the organization’s culture in either a positive or a negative way.
· Deliberate role modeling, teaching, and coaching. Nothing can take the place of leaders “walking their talk.” The personal example of a strategic leader can send a powerful message to the members of an organization, particularly if it is ethical and consistent. Reinforcing that example with teaching and coaching will help others to internalize the desired values.
· Criteria for allocation of rewards and status. The consequences of behavior-what behavior is rewarded and what is punished-can significantly influence culture. If the organization reacts to new ideas by ridiculing the ideas and those who propose them, it won’t take long before people believe that new ideas are not welcomed or desired. One belief of perceived organizational culture is reflected in the statement: “Don’t raise questions or suggest improvements, because nothing will come of it and you will just get in trouble.” If you were in an organization’s strategic leader, what steps could you take to alter the reward system to change this aspect of the culture?
· Criteria for recruitment, selection, promotion, retirement and excommunication. One of the powerful ways of changing an organization’s culture is through the type of people brought into, retained, and advanced in the organization. You should be able to establish a desired culture base in an organization by bringing in and advancing individuals with the values you want, and eliminating those with undesired value bases.
That is what organizations are attempting when they propose tightening up admissions standards to screen out undesirables. This strategy is consistent with the belief that the problems experienced by the organization result from a few “bad apples” and do not reflect systemic problems. However, if a strong culture bias exists, it may be too strong to be changed by selection alone.
The military academies are organizations which change over one fourth of their membership every year, which should provide an opportunity for changes to the organizational culture as new members are brought in. The catch, however, is that the socialization of those new members rests in the hands of those who are already part of the existing culture. How could the military academies make systemic culture changes not negated by the socialization process new members go through?
· Organizational design and structure. As we mentioned earlier, modifying the organization’s basic structure may be a way of changing the existing norms, and hence the culture. For example, a culture of mistrust between the leaders and the members of an organization may be exacerbated by a “line” structure that discourages vertical communication.
· Organizational systems and procedures. The simplest definition of culture is “that’s the way we do things around here.” Routines or procedures can become so embedded that they become part of the culture, and changing the culture necessitates changing those routines. We can all think of organizations where a weekly or monthly meeting takes on a life of its own, becomes more formalized, lengthy, and elaborate, and becomes the only way information moves within the organization. Changing the culture to improve communication may only be possible by changing the meeting procedures or eliminating the meetings altogether.
· Design of physical space, facades, and buildings. The impact of the design of buildings on culture can easily be illustrated by considering the executive perks in an organization. Which organization do you think will have a more open and participative culture, one where top executives have reserved parking spaces, top floor offices, a special elevator and an executive dining room, or one where the executive offices are not separated from the rest of the company and executives park and eat in the same place as their employees?
· Stories about important events and people. This is a way that culture is perpetuated in an organization, in that it helps define and solidify the organization’s identity. By what events and stories they emphasize, leaders influence that identity.
· Formal statements of organizational philosophy, creeds, and charts. This is the way leaders most often try and influence their organizations, and encompasses the vision or mission statement and statements of the organization’s (or the leader’s) values and philosophy. By themselves, however, formal statements will have little effect on the organization’s culture. They must be linked to actions to affect culture.
Schein has five guidelines for the leader:
1. Don’t oversimplify culture or confuse it with climate, values, or corporate philosophy. Culture underlies and largely determines these other variables. Trying to change values or climate without getting at the underlying culture will be a futile effort.
2. Don’t label culture as solely a human resources (read “touchy-feely”) aspect of an organization, affecting only its human side. The impact of culture goes far beyond the human side of the organization to affect and influence its basic mission and goals.
3. Don’t assume that the leader can manipulate culture as he or she can control many other aspects of the organization. Culture, because it is largely determined and controlled by the members of the organization, not the leaders, is different. Culture may end up controlling the leader rather than being controlled by him or her.
4. Don’t assume that there is a “correct” culture, or that a strong culture is better than a weak one. It should be apparent that different cultures may fit different organizations and their environments, and that the desirability of a strong culture depends on how well it supports the organization’s strategic goals and objectives.
5. Don’t assume that all the aspects of an organization’s culture are important, or will have a major impact on the functioning of the organization. Some elements of an organization’s culture may have little impact on its functioning, and the leader must distinguish which elements are important, and focus on those.
An understanding of culture, and how to transform it, is a crucial skill for leaders trying to achieve strategic outcomes. Strategic leaders have the best perspective, because of their position in the organization, to see the dynamics of the culture, what should remain, and what needs transformation. This is the essence of strategic success.
|Culture is a shared (though sometimes unacknowledged) interpretation of experience within a nation, section of society, organisation or group of people. This “common understanding” may stem from previous shared experience (or from a pooling of interpretations of separate individual experiences) and may result in a common pattern of responses to internal and external stimuli.|
|Organisational culture has been defined as “the specific collection of values and norms that are shared by people and groups in an organization and that control the way they interact with each other and with stakeholders outside the organization.”|
|Hill, C.W.L and Jones, G.R. (2001) Strategic Management: An Integrated Approach. Boston MA, Houghton Mifflin|
|Edgar Schein defines organisational culture as “A pattern of shared basic assumptions that the group learned as it solved its problems of external adaptation and internal integration, that has worked well enough to be considered valid and, therefore, to be taught to new members as the correct way you perceive, think, and feel in relation to those problems”.|
|Schein, E.H. (2004) Organizational Culture and Leadership, San Francisco, Jossey-Bass|
|Putting it simply, Deal and Kennedy (1982) define organisational culture as “the way things get done around here.”|
|Deal T. E. and Kennedy, A. A. (1982) Corporate Cultures: The Rites and Rituals of Corporate Life, Harmondsworth, Penguin Books.|
|G. Johnson (1988) identified a number of elements that can be used to describe or influence organisational culture. The Paradigm expresses what the organisation is about; what it does; its mission; its values. However, it should be recognised that formal “mission statements”, although designed to encapsulate the goals and values of an organisation, may not accurately reflect the real culture as practiced within the organisation. Control Systems and the degree to which they seek to direct and monitor what is going on. Organisational Structures such as management hierarchies, lines of reporting, and the way that work flows through the business. Power Structures: Who makes the decisions, how widely spread is power, and on what is power based? Symbols are a telling feature of organisational culture. Formally adopted logos and designs can tell much about how the organisation would like to portray itself, but less obvious symbols (such as executive dining rooms and reserved parking spaces) are a more telling indicator of the true state of affairs. Rituals and Routines, many of which are habitual rather than necessary, also give an indication of what people within an organisation consider to be important. Stories and Myths (about “heroes” and “villains”; about the organisation’s triumphs, etc.) are a means whereby the values of an organisation are promulgated without the necessity to formally promote them.|
|Johnson, G. (1988) “Rethinking Incrementalism”, Strategic Management Journal Vol 9 pp75-91|
|STRONG & WEAK CULTURES|
|The culture of an organisation is determined by observation of what actually happens. This may not match with what senior management would have you believe to be true – or with what an examination of the formal documentation (the “rules and regulations”) would lead you to believe. An organisation in which staff respond to stimulus in accordance with the desired corporate expectations is said to exhibit a “strong culture”. Such organisations are likely to operate efficiently and achieve their corporate goals. An organisation in which staff do not act in accordance with organisational expectations is said to have a “weak culture”. Such organisations often resort to excessive regulatory procedures in an attempt to ensure staff compliance. Strong-culture organisations are not invulnerable to problems. In situations where staff form a cohesive like-minded group, there is a danger that “groupthink” comes to dominate. This phenomenon (identified by Irving Janis) comes into play when desire for conformity becomes an overriding feature of decision-making, resulting in failure to critically appraise all options. Failure to challenge organisational thinking leads to a reduced capacity for innovation – and can result in an organisation’s failure to adapt to challenging circumstances. Various factors can lead to “groupthink” situations.· Over-dependance on a central charismatic figure.· Unquestioning adherence to established organisational procedures.· Unwillingness to disagree with management or colleagues for fear of being seen by the rest of the group as a negative influence.|
|Janis, I.L. (1972) Victims of Groupthink. Boston. Houghton Mifflin Company|
|MODEL – HARRISON – HANDY|
|In determining organisational culture, various models and classifications have been suggested. Building on the work of Roger Harrison (1972), Charles Handy (1985) proposed four types of culture. Power-based culture – in which power is concentrated in the hands of a few key players. Role-based culture – in which a person’s power derives from their position within a highly defined (and often bureaucratic) structure. Task-based culture – in which power derives from recognised expertise. Such organisations often adopt a team-based, problem-solving approach. Person-based culture – in which individuals consider themselves (their role and contribution) superior to the organisation.|
|Harrison, R. and Stokes, H. (1992), Diagnosing Organizational Culture, Pfeiffer, San Francisco. Handy, C.B. (1985) Understanding Organizations, 3rd Edn, Harmondsworth, Penguin Books|
|MODEL – DEAL & KENNEDY|
|Deal and Kennedy (1982) suggested 4 classifications of organisational culture, determined by a combination of two parameters: feedback (monetary, praise, reward) and risk (uncertainty). In the Tough-Guy Macho culture, feedback is quick and the rewards are high. This is typified in fast moving financial activities and in competitive team sports such as professional football. It can be a very stressful culture in which to operate. In the Work Hard/Play Hard culture, few risks are taken and feedback is rapid. This is typified in large organizations which strive for high quality customer service. In the short term it can be an exciting culture in which to operate but the sense of excitement may be difficult to maintain. In the Bet Your Company culture, big stakes decisions are taken but it may be years before the results are known. Typically, these might involve research and development projects which take years to come to fruition, such as oil prospecting. In the Process culture, people become bogged down with how things are done and may lose focus on the bigger picture of what is to be achieved. They may exhibit overly cautious bureaucratic tendencies but are nevertheless likely to produce consistent results, which is ideal in public services, etc.|
|Deal T. E. and Kennedy, A. A. (1982) Corporate Cultures: The Rites and Rituals of Corporate Life, Harmondsworth, Penguin Books.|
|MODEL – CARMAZZI|
|Arthur F Carmazzi has suggested a spectrum of cultures. The Blame culture is one in which individuals blame each other to avoid being reprimanded or put down. It cultivates distrust and fear and results in no new ideas or personal initiative because people don’t want to risk being wrong.A Multi-directional culture is one in which individuals demonstrate limited loyalty to their particular department or sub-group. It is characterised by minimal interdepartmental communication and cooperation and results in each department becoming cliquey and critical of other departments. The resultant lack of cooperation is manifested in the organisation’s inefficiency. Live and let live culture is characterised by complacency. There is a reasonable amount of cooperation and communication such that things are “going ok”. However, there is little growth or innovation because individuals have lost their passion and their vision. A comfortable and entropic environment in which “things ain’t broke so why bother to mess with it?” A Brand congruent culture is one in which individuals believe in the product or service the organisation provides and feel good about their role in achieving its declared aims. Although they may not always agree with management decisions, individuals are cooperative because they see their own role as important. People may even be passionate and prepared to “put themselves out” to resolve issues and solve problems. In a Leadership enriched culture there is a high level of cooperation because individual goals are aligned with the goals of the organisation and people will do what it takes to make things happen. The organisation may feel more like a family in which the members consistently appreciate each other and bring out the best in each other. In this culture, leaders do not develop followers but develop other leaders. Carmazzi suggests that “every individual in the organisation wants to do a good job” and that the behaviours that result in poor performance are the consequence of the group psychology created through poor leadership, inadequate policy and poor communication.|
|IMPLEMENTING CULTURAL CHANGE|
|Cummings & Worley (2005) give the following guidelines for introducing cultural change.· Formulate a clear strategic vision· Display Top-management commitment· Model culture change at the highest level· Modify the organization to support organizational change· Select and socialize newcomers and terminate deviants· Develop ethical and legal sensitivityBurman and Evans (2008) argue that it is leadership that affects culture rather than merely management.|
|Cummings, T.G., and Worley, C.G. (1997) Organization Development and Change, Cincinnati, Ohio: South-Western College Publishing. Burman, R. & Evans, A.J. (2008) Target Zero: A Culture of safety, Defence Aviation Safety Centre Journal 2008, 22-27|
|Changing the culture of an organisation (for the better) is not something that can be achieved overnight – even with the introduction of new leadership. It is something that takes time because it depends on establishing trust. It is a matter of developing individuals’ belief in the organisation and its goals. It is a matter of developing people’s capacity and self-belief. Introducing cultural change is not just about telling people to do things differently – it is about encouraging and inspiring them to think differently. As such, it is about promoting vision, instilling belief, winning over hearts and minds.|
Theme #2: How to Create, Change, and Align Culture to the Structure and Vision.
Creating and Aligning Culture
· The Power of Purpose, Passion, and Perseverance
· Barbara Kaufman
· University Business, Mar 2005
· The role of change agent is only one in a leader’s constellation of roles, but in today’s competitive global environment of dwindling resources, competing priorities and increased demand for higher education, it’s a highly critical one. If universities are to survive and keep pace with the rising importance of higher education to economic viability, their leaders must be willing to overcome the human desire to maintain a sense of equilibrium. They must take the risk of embracing a bold vision that challenges the status quo of cherished assumptions regarding mission, academic programs, fundraising strategies and community relations.
· Mastering the art of being a change agent takes purpose, passion and perseverance–but it is not rocket science.
· The first step is to become a student of change. Identify one or two role models who have successfully tackled change, and learn from their accomplishments as well as their near misses.
· <a href=”//ox-d.promediagrp.com/w/1.0/rc?cs=0029f386db&cb=0.65745600.1455875424″ ><img src=”//ox-d.promediagrp.com/w/1.0/ai?auid=537073218&cs=0029f386db&cb=0.65745600.1455875424″ border=”0″ alt=”” /></a>
· Believing in the Impossible
· Two change agents whose bold initiatives are currently transforming their institutions are Molly Broad, president of the University of North Carolina, and Alexander Gonzalez, president of California State University, Sacramento.
· Gonzalez came to CSUS in 2003 as its first new president in 19 years, inheriting a status quo culture. “The campus had lost its momentum, and people had become somewhat complacent,” says Gonzalez. One of his first steps was to enhance the university’s profile and create the vision of a flagship campus appropriate to its location in the state’s capital.
· Gonzalez proceeded to develop a new physical master plan for a more efficient and attractive campus layout. “The new layout recognizes the campus’ potential, including an increase in student housing from 1,100 to 5,000 beds. This will dramatically change the campus from a primarily commuter to residential institution, fostering a stronger sense of community,” says Gonzalez.
· His master plan further anticipates enrollment growth from 28,600 students to 33,000 by 2010. A new athletics complex and a branch campus in Placer County are also in the developmental stages.
· “When times are difficult, people are more willing to think of new ways of doing things and plan for the future.” -Alexander Gonzalez, California State University, Sacramento
· Gonzalez is moving ahead with his ambitious plans, called “Destination 2010,” despite a $14 billion-plus state deficit and severe funding cuts. He is aggressively pursuing private funding as well as state bonds. “When times are difficult and the regular course of operations is threatened, people are more willing to think of new ways of doing things and plan for the future. It’s actually a great time to propose change and innovation. When long-term goals and the positives are stressed and the steps to achieving success are clear, people are more willing to buy in.” (For more details about Gonzalez’ change initiatives, refer to the article “CSUS President has Grand Plans for the Future,” in the February 2004 edition of Comstock’s Business magazine, California’s Capital Region.) “The challenge of a change agent is to promote buy-in on the part of the people who create organizational capacity for change, in other words, to move them from a state of disbelief to belief in what is possible,” says UNC President Molly Broad, referring to her successful $3 billion bond campaign.
· When she originally proposed the measure in 2000, the reaction on the part of the chancellors was utter disbelief. The largest bond previously passed had been $300 million. “I was neither fearful nor entrapped by the culture,” Broad recalls. “We had done our analytical homework, and it was comprehensive and impeccable. We showed how public investment in the university had failed to keep pace with the demand for higher education and its importance to the state’s economic viability.
· The backlog of deferred repair and renovation needs for nearly 800 buildings, particularly science and technology labs, coupled with new construction needed to accommodate an expected enrollment growth of 48,000 students, was estimated at $7 billion over the next decade.”
· Undeterred when the bill failed in the first effort, Broad asked for a legislative study to examine her case. A commission examined classrooms, labs and residence halls, which were in a state of dis repair. “There was a big risk in exposing the underbelly of the institution,” says Broad. “UNCTV played a video dozens of times showing how bad our labs were. Members of the commission interviewed a young professor who burst into tears over the unsafe conditions in her freshman chemistry lab.” In the end, taking the risk of capturing these images for the public, along with Broad’s passion and perseverance, spelled success. Even though it doubled the state’s cumulative debt, three out of four voters in all 100 counties passed the bond measure.
· Opportunities, Not Obstacles
· What can be learned from these role models? Let’s review their successful attitudes and actions:
· A demonstrated confidence in a vision and the passion to carry it through. Both Broad and Gonzalez believed they could achieve the unachievable. They were willing to take the risk of articulating a bold vision and focused on what was possible. “In these times of dwindling resources and support, it’s critical to see problems as opportunities rather than obstacles,” Gonzalez says.
· Broad’s perspective is remarkably similar. “Every hill on the horizon is just one more hill, not an insurmountable mountain,” she says. “I was passionate about the outcomes of a successful bond campaign. I have great perseverance. I’ve learned a leader has to be a marathoner.”
· Inclusive leadership; a willingness to engage diverse constituent groups. Having a vision is not enough. If it is not articulated in ways that resonate for and mobilize followers and supporters, buy-in will remain an elusive goal among entrenched agendas and positions.
· Gonzalez was creative and savvy in finding something in his vision for everyone, from new athletics facilities to an arts center. Broad had a wellspring of support from students and faculty who rallied voters in community settings such as local grocery stores.
· Using influence more than position power. A change agent is someone who is willing to engage detractors, not just natural followers. Successful change agents are always superb storytellers who can capture the minds and hearts of others through visions that shape the future in compelling ways.
· A would-be change agent who cannot tell a compelling story is often left with a dream that never becomes a reality and with an erosion of trust and support as a leader. For even greater impact, successful storytellers do not just tell; they show.
· Both Broad and Gonzalez used visual media extensively to drive their messages home. For Broad, the repetitive showing of the UNCTV video was a significant factor of success. At CSU, Gonzalez took to the road with a compelling video of “Destination 2010” to rally both the internal and external community.
· Skill in overcoming cultural obstacles. Resistance to specific changes or to the pace of change can be expected from long-tenured players who may be “retired on the job” or invested in the status quo. The first step for change agents new to their institutions, according to Gonzalez, is to do the homework and size up the challenge carefully to avoid drawing faulty conclusions. “Learning about relationships among people and how they operate and interact are extremely important,” he says. “Only then can you move forward and impose your own views.”
· How can leaders who are not yet comfortable as change agents develop in this role? Start with simple initiatives on a day-to-day basis, whether it’s questioning the sustainability of a program and offering alternatives, leading the review of an outdated policy through a process that involves seeking the input of diverse constituents, or suggesting the purposeful abandonment of reports that have outlived their usefulness. Begin by taking small risks and gradually build up to larger ones. Don’t forget to celebrate successes along the way and to document learning from failures and near-misses.
· The Power to Transform
· Change agents are strategic thinkers with a vision that is shared across the institution. They are fearless but pragmatic risk-takers who can envision success. They are proficient storytellers and experts at managing complex problems and conflict among potential supporters.
· But none of these skills will lead to success unless grounded in a passion for the end goal, and the ability to sustain a marathon through the challenges and setbacks inherent in bold visions. Higher education cannot transform itself to meet the challenges of the new millennium without this passion and perseverance on the part of its leaders.
· Barbara Kaufman, Ph.D., is President of ROI Consulting Group, Inc. ( www.roiconsultinggroup.com ). An executive coach and educator, she specializes in leadership effectiveness and organizational development strategies for private and public sector leadership teams. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .
By the Mind Tools Editorial Team
The Mind Tools Editorial Team
The Mind Tools Editorial Team
· Liz Cook
· Jo Jones
Making Organization Change Happen Effectively
© iStockphoto LordRunar
Change management is a term that is bandied about freely. Sometimes it’s a scapegoat for less than stellar results: “That initiative failed because we didn’t focus enough on change management.” And it’s often used as a catch-all for project activities that might otherwise get overlooked: “When we implement that new process, let’s not forget about the change management.”
It’s a noun: “Change management is key to the project.” It’s a verb: “We really need to change manage that process.” It’s an adjective: “My change management skills are improving.” It’s an expletive: “Change management!”
But what exactly is it?
Change management is a structured approach for ensuring that changes are thoroughly and smoothly implemented, and that the lasting benefits of change are achieved.
The focus is on the wider impacts of change, particularly on people and how they, as individuals and teams, move from the current situation to the new one. The change in question could range from a simple process change, to major changes in policy or strategy needed if the organization is to achieve its potential.
Understanding Change Management
Theories about how organizations change draw on many disciplines, from psychology and behavioral science, through to engineering and systems thinking. The underlying principle is that change does not happen in isolation – it impacts the whole organization (system) around it, and all the people touched by it.
In order to manage change successfully, it is therefore necessary to attend to the wider impacts of the changes. As well as considering the tangible impacts of change, it’s important to consider the personal impact on those affected, and their journey towards working and behaving in new ways to support the change. The Change Curve is a useful model that describes the personal and organizational process of change in more detail.
Change management is, therefore, a very broad field, and approaches to managing change vary widely, from organization to organization and from project to project. Many organizations and consultants subscribe to formal change management methodologies. These provide toolkits, checklists and outline plans of what needs to be done to manage changes successfully.
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When you are tasked with “managing change” (irrespective of whether or not you subscribe to a particular change management approach), the first question to consider is what change management actually means in your situation. Change management focuses on people, and is about ensuring change is thoroughly, smoothly and lastingly implemented. And to know what that means exactly in your situation, you must dig down further to define your specific change management objectives.
Typically, these will cover:
1. Sponsorship: Ensuring there is active sponsorship for the change at a senior executive level within the organization, and engaging this sponsorship to achieve the desired results.
2. Buy-in: Gaining buy-in for the changes from those involved and affected, directly or indirectly.
3. Involvement: Involving the right people in the design and implementation of changes, to make sure the right changes are made.
4. Impact: Assessing and addressing how the changes will affect people.
5. Communication: Telling everyone who’s affected about the changes.
6. Readiness: Getting people ready to adapt to the changes, by ensuring they have the right information, training and help.
When you are defining your objectives and activities, it’s very important to coordinate closely with others: project managers, managers in the business, and the HR department. Ask “who’s responsible?” For example, who’s responsible for identifying change agents? Defining the re-training plan? Changing job descriptions and employment contracts? And so on.
As every change is different, responsibilities will vary depending on how the change activities and project are organized. Only when you know who’s responsible and how things are organized in your situation will you know what’s within your scope, and how you’ll be working with other people to bring about the change.
Change Management Activities
Once you have considered the change management objectives and scope, you’ll also need to consider the specific tasks. Again, the range of possible activities is broad. It’s a question of working out what will best help you meet the change challenge in hand, as you have defined it in your objectives and scope, and how to work along side other people’s and projects’ activities and responsibilities.
The essence of this is to identify the tasks that are necessary if you’re going to give change the greatest chance of success.
Coming from this, the activities involved in managing change can include:
· Ensuring there is clear expression of the reasons for change, and helping the sponsor communicate this.
· Identifying “change agents” and other people who need to be involved in specific change activities, such as design, testing, and problem solving, and who can then act as ambassadors for change.
· Assessing all the stakeholders and defining the nature of sponsorship, involvement and communication that will be required.
· Planning the involvement and project activities of the change sponsor(s).
· Planning how and when the changes will be communicated, and organizing and/or delivering the communications messages.
· Assessing the impact of the changes on people and the organization’s structure.
· Planning activities needed to address the impacts of the change.
· Ensuring that people involved and affected by the change understand the process change.
· Making sure those involved or affected have help and support during times of uncertainty and upheaval.
· Assessing training needs driven by the change, and planning when and how this will be implemented.
· Identifying and agreeing the success indicators for change, and ensure they are regularly measured and reported on.
Remember, these are just some typical change management activities. Others may be required in your specific situation. Equally, some of the above may not be within your remit, so plan carefully, and coordinate with other people involved.
Your Change Management Toolkit
So where do you start?
Here are some tools and techniques from Mind Tools that can help:
The Change Curve – This powerful model describes the stages of personal transition involved in most organizational change. It will help you understand how people will react to the changes, and so you can better plan how to support them through the process.
Lewin’s Change Management Model – This describes how you generally have to “break up” the current state of things in order to make improvements, using the concept of “unfreeze – change – refreeze”. Our article shows the different things you need to do at each stage to support those impacted.
Beckhard and Harris’s Change Model – Giving another perspective on change, this describes how change initiatives require the pre-requisites of real dissatisfaction with the current state, a vision of why the new state will be better, and clear first steps towards getting there, to be successful.
Impact Analysis – This is a useful technique for uncovering the “unexpected” consequences of change.
Burke-Litwin Change Model – This complex model helps you to work through the effects of change between 12 elements of organizational design.
McKinsey 7S Framework – Somewhat similar to the Burke-Litwin Model, this well-known tool helps you to understand the relationship between seven “hard” and “soft” aspects of organizations.
Leavitt’s Diamond – In the same vein as the McKinsey 7S and Burke-Litwin models, this tool allows you to work through the impacts of a proposed change on the interrelated elements of tasks, people, structure and technology in any organization.
Organization Design – Although every organization is unique, there are a several common structures. This article describes these, and discusses the things you need to consider when choosing the best design for your situation.
SIPOC Diagrams – A comprehensive tool for checking the impact of a proposed change on your suppliers, inputs, processes, outputs and customers,
Kotter’s 8-Step Change Model – The core set of change management activities that need to be done to effect change, and make it stick in the long term.
Training Needs Assessment – Change projects almost always need people to learn new skills. A training needs assessment is a structured way of ensuring that the right people are given the right training at the right time.
Why Change Can Fail – Change is complex, and knowing what NOT to do is just as important as knowing what TO do!
Stakeholder Analysis – A formal method for identifying, prioritizing and understanding your project’s stakeholders.
Stakeholder Management – A process for planning your stakeholder communications to ensure that you give the right people the right message at the right time to get the support you need for your project.
Mission Statements and Visions Statements – Mission and vision statements are a well-structured way of helping you to communicate what the change is intended to achieve, and to motivate your stakeholders with an inspiring, shared vision of the future.
And to explore various aspects of change management in more depth, take our Bite-Sized Training lesson on Managing Change .
Change management is a broad discipline that involves ensuring change is implemented smoothly and with lasting benefits, by considering its wider impact on the organization and people within it. Each change initiative you manage or encounter will have its own unique set of objectives and activities, all of which must be coordinated.
As a change manager, your role is to ease the journey towards new ways of working, and you’ll need a set of tools to help you along the way: There’s a wide range of change management tools here at Mind Tools – this a great place to start!
Types of Organization Culture
The practices, principles, policies and values of an organization form its culture. The culture of an organization decides the way employees behave amongst themselves as well as the people outside the organization.
Let us understand the various types of organization culture:
1. Normative Culture: In such a culture, the norms and procedures of the organization are predefined and the rules and regulations are set as per the existing guidelines. The employees behave in an ideal way and strictly adhere to the policies of the organization. No employee dares to break the rules and sticks to the already laid policies.
2. Pragmatic Culture: In a pragmatic culture, more emphasis is placed on the clients and the external parties. Customer satisfaction is the main motive of the employees in a pragmatic culture. Such organizations treat their clients as Gods and do not follow any set rules. Every employee strives hard to satisfy his clients to expect maximum business from their side.
3. Academy Culture: Organizations following academy culture hire skilled individuals. The roles and responsibilities are delegated according to the back ground, educational qualification and work experience of the employees. Organizations following academy culture are very particular about training the existing employees. They ensure that various training programmes are being conducted at the workplace to hone the skills of the employees. The management makes sincere efforts to upgrade the knowledge of the employees to improve their professional competence. The employees in an academy culture stick to the organization for a longer duration and also grow within it. Educational institutions, universities, hospitals practice such a culture.
4. Baseball team Culture: A baseball team culture considers the employees as the most treasured possession of the organization. The employees are the true assets of the organization who have a major role in its successful functioning. In such a culture, the individuals always have an upper edge and they do not bother much about their organization. Advertising agencies, event management companies, financial institutions follow such a culture.
5. Club Culture: Organizations following a club culture are very particular about the employees they recruit. The individuals are hired as per their specialization, educational qualification and interests. Each one does what he is best at. The high potential employees are promoted suitably and appraisals are a regular feature of such a culture.
6. Fortress Culture: There are certain organizations where the employees are not very sure about their career and longevity. Such organizations follow fortress culture. The employees are terminated if the organization is not performing well. Individuals suffer the most when the organization is at a loss. Stock broking industries follow such a culture.
7. Tough Guy Culture: In a tough guy culture, feedbacks are essential. The performance of the employees is reviewed from time to time and their work is thoroughly monitored. Team managers are appointed to discuss queries with the team members and guide them whenever required. The employees are under constant watch in such a culture.
8. Bet your company Culture: Organizations which follow bet your company culture take decisions which involve a huge amount of risk and the consequences are also unforeseen. The principles and policies of such an organization are formulated to address sensitive issues and it takes time to get the results.
9. Process Culture: As the name suggests the employees in such a culture adhere to the processes and procedures of the organization. Feedbacks and performance reviews do not matter much in such organizations. The employees abide by the rules and regulations and work according to the ideologies of the workplace. All government organizations follow such a culture.
· Five Steps to Building an Organizational Culture
· By Ari Weinzweig, Zingerman’s Co-Founding Partner
· At Zingerman’s, we are often asked, “How did you build this great group of people? How do you get people to care and have such a good time at work?
· Basically, they are asking what the secret of our culture is. And, of course, there is no secret; there are a thousand things to make the culture what it is.
· Still, most people are looking for simple answers. “It’s all in the hiring, isn’t it? Or “Do you think it’s because you’re in a college town? Sometimes, I jokingly tell them that it’s all in the Magic Brownies we make at the Bakehouse.
· What Is a Culture? Here’s what Webster’s says. Culture is: a) the integrated pattern of human knowledge, belief, and behavior that depends upon the capacity for learning and transmitting knowledge to succeeding generations.
· b) the customary beliefs, social forms, and material traits of a racial, religious or social group; also: the characteristic features of everyday existence (as diversions or a way of life) shared by people in a place or time.
· c) the set of shared attitudes, values, goals and practices that characterizes an institution or organization.
· d) the set of values, conventions or social practices associated with a particular field, activity or societal characteristic.
· As we view it at Zingerman’s, the culture is the everyday reality of organizational life. Within that, all the Webster definitions apply. The culture is not the mission statement, the vision, your bank balance or the staff handbook, though all those contribute to creating it. The culture is what we do and say, the way we behave, the way we treat each other, our products, our customers, our community and ourselves. In essence, it’s the “personality of the company.
· While speeches, grand plans, fancy training manuals, etc., have some influence on the culture, they are just as likely to have a negative as a positive influence. Ultimately, it’s what leaders do much more than what we say that makes the culture what it is.
· Creating a Culture There are only two main ways to build an organizational culture: either with consideration and conscious intent; or, by contrast, to let the culture come together as it does, giving it little thought in the process.
· What follows is our recipe for consciously creating an organizational culture. Like all recipes, it’s not perfect. But, if you use it, you will radically increase the odds of creating the culture you want.