What is culture anyhow?
In the very simplest definition, culture is the way people think, act and behave. For us to interact with others, we need to share common values, stories, beliefs and ways of doing things. We cannot live without culture. It's the essence of who we are as humans.
Successful firms have intentionally built cultures. If a company is aggressive and competitive, and its employees always want to win, it will build a culture around those values. On the other hand, if a company is entrepreneurial and likes innovation, teamwork and visionary ideas, it will build a culture around those things.
Culture also creates a collective identity and a commitment to that identity. It becomes a company's brand. And if you have a good strong brand, you want to make sure you're living it, living the culture.
Wondering what your culture is? Perhaps this presentation can help.
A slide show I recently produced, “Culture Change: A Discussion Document,” is for anyone who is interested in how to assess their organization's current culture, regardless of what type of organization it is, and how to better understand what that organization's employees would prefer the culture to become in the future.
There are lots of reasons why this kind of culture assessment is important. At SAMC, we use a tool called the Organizational Culture Assessment Instrument (OCAI), a methodology developed at the University of Michigan by Dr. Kim Cameron and Dr. Robert Quinn. They built it out of the Competing Values Framework created by Dr. Jeff DeGraff. The OCAI is extremely well-researched and well-established as an effective way to capture an organization's culture and how it could be changed.
To watch the slide show, click on the image below.
To read a transcription of the slide show, click here.
The OCAI identifies four archetypes
There are four archetypes that came out of Cameron and Quinn’s research: Clan (Collaborative), Adhocracy (Creative), Hierarchy (Controlling) and Market (Competing).
There is no one good culture, but there are lots of good ways to combine these archetypes into good cultures. It's not easy to have the right mix, but the OCAI assessment survey allows you and your employees to create a common platform for discussing your culture of today against what you would prefer it to be.
How do you change your culture to achieve your strategic objectives?
Culture change is very hard. You're challenging the very essence of who a person is. Their personal identity comes from their culture. So this is about changing a person, and people will change their minds and their behaviors if they see others, particularly their leaders, colleagues and staff, behaving differently. Plus, people mirror each other unconsciously. They bond through watching how others behave and then exhibit that behavior intuitively. That's how they remain safely within the herd.
At SAMC, we like to think of a culture change process as changing the stage on which you're performing your day-to-day business. You're asking people to write a new script, play a different role, rehearse it, act differently, and, somehow, turn the company into a new kind of organization. They can do it but they need a process, and learning the new script takes some time. But it can happen. You and your culture can change!
To learn more about culture change, we offer these blogs and podcasts:
- Blog: Want To Change Your Organization? Make It Like An Exciting Play.
- Blog: Managing Change in Fast-Changing Times
- Blog: 5 Ways to Help Your Business Adapt to Changing Times
- Blog: Why Change Is So Scary—And Why That Dooms Businesses To Fail
- Podcast: Ask Andi—How Do You Change Your Culture?
- Podcast: Warren Whitlock—How to Overcome the Pain of Change
- Podcast: Ask Andi—Why Companies Have Got To Change Or They Will Not Thrive
Ready to boldly embrace change? Let's talk.
At Simon Associates Management Consultants (SAMC), we are culture change experts who specialize in helping companies and the people who work for them realize that yes, “change is pain,” but they can change and actually do it well. We invite you to contact us to discuss how our team of specialized corporate anthropologists and business change management advisors can assess your current culture and suggest ways you and your business could change it to capitalize on today's many challenges to achieve greater success. We look forward to hearing from you.
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