Organisational culture is the pattern of basic assumptions, values, and beliefs shared that frame how work is to be done and evaluated, and how employees are to relate to each other and to stakeholders, customers, suppliers.

Insights from ‘Organizational Development and Change’ – by Thomas Cummings and Christopher Worley.

    1. Corporate culture is the product of long-term social learning and reflects what has worked in the past.
    2. Culture change efforts begin with diagnoses.
      1. Behavioural approach
        1. Assesses key work behaviors that can be observed.
        2. Describes how specific relationships are managed and tasks performed
      2. Competing values approach
        1. Culture can be understood by how an organization handles dilemmas around four contradictory values.
        2. Four sets of competing values:
          • participation vs. goal achievement;
          • internal focus vs. external focus;
          • stability vs. creativity and innovation;
          • organic processes vs. mechanistic processes.
    3. Culture change.
      • There is considerable debate over whether it can be done or not.
      • Given the problems with cultural change, most practitioners in this area suggest that changes in corporate culture should be considered only after other, less difficult and less costly solutions have either been applied or ruled out.

Practical advice:

  1. Start with a clear vision of the firm’s strategy and the shared values and behaviors needed to make it work.
  2. Have top management commitment, because culture change must be managed from the top.
  3. Symbolic leadership is critical: leaders must walk the talk. In successful cases of culture change, leaders almost always demonstrate a missionary zeal for new values and behaviors.
  4. Support organisational changes in structure, reward systems, HR systems, information systems and leadership style.
  5. Pay careful attention to the selection and socialisation of new-comers, as well as the termination of deviants.
  6. Manage ethical and legal issues effectively. Don’t promise values for culture change that the organization can not deliver on.