What is Organizational Culture
and Why Does It Matter?

Like the scuba divers shown above in the Blue Hole in Belize, this Blog “dives in” to issues associated with organizational culture and cultural change. Staff members of the Breckenridge Institute® post recent research, case studies, experiences, insights, books we're reading and performance results they’ve gotten working with organizations in the area of using organizational culture to improve organizational performance and sustainability.


Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Creating an Intended Culture

The process by which organizational culture is formed has many things in common with the formation of personality. In terms of personality formation, by the time we’re old enough to know that we have a personality we’ve had no hand in fashioning it. In much the same way, an organization’s culture is like its personality and many managers wake up one day and find themselves with structures, systems, and a culture that they have not consciously chosen; in business relationships that may not be in their best interest; with assumptions about generating revenue and patterns of spending that they have not consciously chosen; with employees who are not matched to the organization’s human capital needs; pursuing objectives and goals that don’t produce the desired financial and non-financial results.

One of the keys to understanding and changing this “unconscious” aspect of culture formation in organizations is to become aware of the degree to which an organization’s culture is intended or unintended. An Intended Culture is consciously configured to achieve an organization’s desired results; e.g., its goals and objectives. An Unintended Culture tends to be riddled with ineffective autopilot operations and Invisible Bureaucracy that derail, frustrate, and undermine organizational intentions as embodied in its goals and objectives. Even outstanding organizational performance may be episodic and short-lived because it is an artifact of the specific configuration of internal and external environments within which the organization exists, rather than the result of an Intended Culture. The ability of an organization to change and adapt with conscious intention is the true test of the degree to which its culture is consciously chosen for specific ends.

The approach to creating an Intended Culture described in Mark Bodnarczuk’s new book, Making Invisible Bureaucracy Visible will help you transform your organization’s culture into a powerful resource that effectively performs day-to-day operations on autopilot; e.g., effectively and seamlessly without thinking about them. When done effectively, autopilot operations can be your greatest ally because they increase your ability to compete and achieve your goals. But in most cases the autopilot operations that typify an Unintended Culture are self-defeating because they perpetuate problems with work performance, communication, interpersonal conflict, and decision-making and then derail attempts to create positive change. This unique approach to creating an Intended Culture helps managers take ineffective operations off autopilot, reconfigure them, and then migrate them back to autopilot operations that produce the desired results. Understanding how these invisible forces actually work begins to transform “culture” into a more reliable resource that can be used to achieve an organization’s goals and objectives.


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