1. Organizational culture is the pattern of basic assumptions, values, norms and artifacts shared by organizational members. These shared meanings help members to make sense out of the organization. The meanings signal how work is to be done and evaluated, and how employees are to relate to each other and to constituencies such as customers, suppliers and government agencies.
  2. Corporate culture is the product of long-term social learning and reflects what has worked in the past.
  3. Diagnosing organizational culture culture change efforts begin with diagnoses.
    1. Behavioral 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. Deep assumptions approach
      1. Very difficult and time consuming to do.
  4. Culture change.
    1. There is considerable debate over whether it can be done or not.
    2. 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.
    3. Knowledge about culture change is in its formative stages; however, here is some practical advice if you embark on the journey:
      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 organizational changes in structure, reward systems, HR systems, information systems and leadership style.
      5. Pay careful attention to the selection and socialization of new-comers, as well as the termination of deviants. This is particularly important for key leadership roles. Jan Carlzon of SAS replaced 13 of 15 top executives.
      6. Manage ethical and legal issues effectively. Don’t promise values for culture change that the organization can not deliver on.


Organizational Change: Consortium Benchmarking Study conducted by the American Productivity and Quality Center

  1. Overview of findings.
    1. Successful organizations believe the organization’s culture must be changed.
    2. Organization change requires vision, tenacity and a long-term horizon.
    3. Organization change requires commitment from top management.
    4. Organization change requires extensive communication with all stakeholders. Employees must be empowered and educated so they can exploit their new power.
    5. It is necessary to systematically measure progress and results.
  2. Key elements of success.
    1. Leadership
    2. Culture change
    3. Work force involvement
    4. Communication and measurement
    5. Education
    6. Supportive Human Resource systems
    7. A shared sense of urgency for change
  3. Triggers for change.
    1. Organizations on the brink of disaster that had engaged in change efforts consistently rated triggers higher than organizations not currently in dire circumstances.
    2. Highest ranking triggers
      1. Changing regulatory or legal environment
      2. Competition
      3. Customer dissatisfaction
      4. Declining or increasing profits
    3. Second ranked triggers
      1. Declining or increasing market share
      2. Declining or increasing revenue
      3. Rising costs
      4. Technology change
    4. Third ranked triggers
      1. Employee morale
      2. Merger or acquisition
      3. Public Image
      4. Quality


What does your organisation do well and what does it need to do better?

In this videocast, Chris Worley gives an in-depth explanation of the concept of agility: the ability to change in a timely, effective and sustainable manner when the environment demands it.

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

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