Trying to change the corporate culture

One question in particular came up a lot: We all have unconscious biases in how we perceive and report. Writing in first person helps you, the reader, to see and judge my biases for yourself. Thanks, Mike, for reminding me to point that out.

Trying to change the corporate culture

Joe Marasco Published on December 15, We are seeing a renaissance of interest in culture and values in business these days 1which I view as another example of nature abhorring a vacuum: Culture and values are coming into focus now because we simply haven't given them much consideration in recent times.

While revelations about errant companies and company officers continue to multiply, those who have hewn to the true path seem to be forgotten. It's always that way: The foibles and follies of rascals sell newspapers and media air time, and the honest folks don't get much publicity--even if they represent the majority.

In this piece, we'll delve into the relationship between "culture" and "values. But this is not an accident. In mapping out the territory from my own perspective, it goes without saying that my own set of values aligns pretty closely with those of Rational; otherwise, I would not have spent more than sixteen years here.

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We'll start by examining what a culture is and then see how values play into defining and supporting culture. What Is a Culture? We define a culture as a set of characteristics that sets one group of people apart from another. For example, we sometimes attribute differences in the way the English act as opposed to the French as the result of "cultural differences.

Some characteristics are transcultural, though. For example, we more or less expect that all children, everywhere, will grow up to love their parents.

The way they express that love may depend a lot on the culture in which they are raised, but the loving feelings are culturally agnostic. Another way to think about this is that a culture defines how a set of abstract principles is translated into day-to-day behavior. That is, we all have a set of nearly instinctive "default behaviors," programmed into us from infancy, which represent accepted norms and modes within our local environment.

Of course, we can consciously choose to behave outside these norms, which we may well do in unusual situations.

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For example, if we live in a culture that believes violence is bad, then when disagreements arise, our default behavior, according to that cultural norm, is to use our words and not our fists--to resolve conflict verbally.

However, if it becomes clear that someone who is threatening another person's life will not "listen to reason," then the culture admits violence as a "last resort" for the potential victim--or a law enforcement officer. But this is an exceptional case.

In general, there are sanctions, both formal and informal, for violating cultural norms when exceptional circumstances do not apply. Perhaps my colleague Philippe Kruchten said it best when he wrote the following in an unpublished paper: Our behavior is driven by three forces: If we're not exposed to other cultures, we have a difficult time distinguishing culture from human nature.

We naturally assume that all these aspects are universal, but they are not.

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It is also important to distinguish those characteristics that are cultural--that is, generic to a group of individuals--as opposed to attributing such characteristics to individual personality quirks. It is somehow easier to condone someone for not having surmounted a cultural barrier than it is to forgive what we perceive as a personal deviance.

Strong and Weak Cultures Continuing down the same path, I believe there are two different kinds of cultures: This speaks to how a culture translates its underlying principles, or values, into everyday life. In a strong culture, the abstract principles values are translated very directly into people's day-to-day lives.

The military, for example, has a definite set of values and a very strong culture. Whether or not you agree with these values, you have to admit that they are translated into daily use very rigorously and consistently; they are enforced through external rules and regulations, as well as education that is absorbed internally.

The prevailing culture of the s was also a strong one, characterized by distrust for authority and a desire to question all social conventions. Once again, whether you agree with these values or not, you have to acknowledge their powerful influence on people's behavior at the time.


I remember, for example, how difficult it was to "organize" a peace march, because the participants were so anti-authority--leaders had to explain and justify every "request" they made, 2 and "enforcement" came almost entirely from peer pressure. Not all cultures are that strong, though.

Some have a set of generally accepted abstract values, yet these do not really inform daily life. In Western culture, for example, the degree to which church-goers apply their religious values to daily life varies widely.

Some churches and sects have a very strong culture and strive to place religious tenets at the core of every act and thought, day in and day out. Other sects, in contrast, are much more laissez faire with respect to regulating daily behavior, and treat faith as the most important value.

The strength of a culture depends, finally, on two factors. One is the degree to which the values of the culture are codified and effectively transmitted to all.

The second is the degree of pain people suffer for straying outside the cultural norms. The strongest cultures, obviously, are those in which all members clearly know and understand the "code," and also recognize that the penalties for violation are harsh.The components of creating a culture of change — effective leadership, sharing your vision, and providing meaning to others — are important building blocks of successful change management.

After a highly publicized corporate meltdown this spring, Uber is working to repair a culture that employees and observers say is aggressive, cutthroat, and demanding.

But years of putting out fires 2. MHR Testbank - 14 - Free download as PDF File .pdf), Text File .txt) or read online for free. MHR - Organizational Behavior testbanks values and beliefs that the company's top executives are trying to spread throughout D.

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Founders and corporate leaders strengthen or change corporate culture by applying change practices. E. All. Culture is defined as the values, practices, and beliefs shared by the members of a group. Company Culture, therefore, is the shared values, . The workplace is in need of a redesign; especially in business practices that impact working mothers and all families.

We have seen the possibilities for change directly in the tennis world as the. 9 days ago · While leadership at the top may need to be changed, doing this single action in no way guarantees any type of change will occur within the corporate culture.

Trying to change the corporate culture

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Why is organizational culture change difficult