Growing an organizational culture

By chance, I had been thinking about this very thing earlier that morning: How culture plays a role in organizational agility.  After some serious thought, I believe that asking anyone to do anything with/to a culture is the wrong approach. The reason?


The term, “culture,’ has become one of those words that is so nebulous, so ambiguous, as to have nearly lost all meaning.  It has become one of those words that can mean so many different things to so many different people and, as a consequence, has lost its value (that value being the ability to identify it as an item that can be identified, addressed and changed.)


Instead, we should address the components of culture.  What goes into making or establishing a culture?  While there are many models and assessments (e.g. Denison’s cultural survey) at a fundamental level it essentially boils down to two ingredients:


  • What we do

  • How we do it


When looking at changing or impacting a culture in some significant way, however, the “how we do it” is the most important.


To explain what I mean, I would like to use organizations who are known to have a culture of “safety” as an example.  Think of any large engineering firm or Oil Major - or any organization where the health and welfare of people are at stake for that matter.  These organizations did not implement a “culture of safety.”  Rather, they undertook a coordinated set of efforts that over time lead to having a culture of safety.  For example, they brought safety experts in to review their processes in order to identify areas of risk and to mitigate these risks.   They then sustained these improvements by making this review part of their operation, so that processes are routinely reviewed, updated or retired and replaced with better industry processes.  The organizations made it a management priority by identifying and tracking key metrics (e.g. “Number of days since last workplace incident”) and held their managers accountable to these figures.  Managers in turn made it a priority of their teams by speaking about it at town halls and department meetings. They ensured that tasks were done safely, by empowering staff with stop work authority and doing root-cause analysis or lessons learned whenever an incident occurred. Eventually, the message that “safety is a priority” trickles throughout the organization and overtime, a “culture” is achieved.


So when faced with the challenge instilling a culture, first be clear on what type of culture the organization is trying to achieve.  The leadership should be able to distill the cultural goal in a single word or short phrase such as, “safety” or “efficiency” or “creativity.”  Next, focus on how they do things, that is to say, look at their processes.  (Note: having no processes in place can lead to its own type of culture, one of chaos and inefficiency, but a culture none-the-less.)  Identify areas in existing processes where the element can be enhanced.  Areas that can be made “more safe” or “more efficient.”  Then, identify new processes that can help sustain or reinforce this word as a priority. 


When faced with understanding how culture will impact a change effort, look at the outputs identified above.  What sustainment processes does the organization have in place?   Identify what each sustainment processes is protecting.  Next, look for common steps in their set of organizational processes that appear to support these sustainment processes.



Last modified on Monday, 23 November 2015 21:40
Rate this item
(0 votes)


  • website,

    This page definitely has all the info I wanted concerning this subject and didn't know who
    to ask.

    posted by website, Monday, 24 April 2017 20:49 Comment Link
  • Do zobaczenia w tej Okolicy

    What a stuff of un-ambiguity and preserveness of valuable knowledge concerning unpredicted emotions.

    posted by Do zobaczenia w tej Okolicy Monday, 24 April 2017 20:49 Comment Link
  • prediksisatu

    Thankfulness to my father who told me on the topic of this blog, this website is
    in fact remarkable.

    posted by prediksisatu Monday, 24 April 2017 20:48 Comment Link
  • youtube downloader playlist

    Someone necessarily help to make critically posts I might state.
    That is the first time I frequented your website page and to this point?
    I surprised with the analysis you made to make this actual submit extraordinary.
    Excellent process!

    posted by youtube downloader playlist Monday, 24 April 2017 20:47 Comment Link

    Teri Lopez Alternativamente a. April Dick - Female wrestling from the 2004 New York Athletic Club Christmas
    Invitational Wrestling Tournament. é mestre em pulos, proponho que, para celebrar nosso combinação de amizade, Fraco aponta
    para um correto primitivismo psico-mental ou, no paisagem físico, para tumoração craniana.
    me dê um curso de pulos, para eu permanecer tão puladora como E mês que vem
    estaremos de volta e vamos trabalhar com FrameWork CodeIgniter,
    motivo da escolha do CI foi porque ele possui um curva de tirocínio menor que os demais
    que testei, não porque é melhor ou pior antes que que
    me crucifiquem !

  • Service apartments in singapore for short stay

    Hey! I just wanted to ask if you ever have any problems with hackers?
    My last blog (wordpress) was hacked and I ended up losing many months of hard
    work due to no data backup. Do you have any solutions to prevent hackers?

  • deliciosos smoothies para bajar de peso

    What's up to every body, it's my first pay a quick
    visit of this web site; this webpage contains remarkable and really good stuff in favor of readers.

    posted by deliciosos smoothies para bajar de peso Monday, 24 April 2017 20:43 Comment Link
  • FIFA55

    Hiya! Quick question that's completely off topic.
    Do you know how to make your site mobile friendly?
    My weblog looks weird when viewing from my iphone4. I'm trying to find
    a template or plugin that might be able to resolve this problem.
    If you have any recommendations, please share. Cheers!

    posted by FIFA55 Monday, 24 April 2017 20:43 Comment Link
  • drug addiction

    It's truly very complex in this busy life to listen news on TV, therefore I only use internet for that purpose,
    and obtain the latest news.

    posted by drug addiction Monday, 24 April 2017 20:42 Comment Link
  • gamestop near me detroit

    If you manage to get your palms on the suitable Pokemon Duel EX Figure, you may improve your decks power by loads.

    posted by gamestop near me detroit Monday, 24 April 2017 20:40 Comment Link

Leave a comment

Make sure you enter the (*) required information where indicated. HTML code is not allowed.

back to top