Navigating the Currents of Your Organization

An important aspect of organizational change is understanding the cultural norms in your organization.  You can think of ‘cultural norms’ as ‘the way things go around here’ and that can be different from what your organization’s culture is.

The term ‘Culture’ means different things to different people and there are many models you can use to help make sense of your surroundings.

The Re-Engineering Alternative: William Schneider

William Schneider writes about how organizations have a dominant culture as well as many sub-cultures.  He helps readers of his book understand how to identify the strengths and weaknesses of their culture citing that one culture isn’t better than another.  Why is this important?  When bringing Agile practices into your organization, one approach might make more sense than another.  For example, if you organization is a functional organization focused on rules and processes it could be difficult to start with Scrum which immediately breaks down those silos.

He describes 4 culture types: Control, Collaborative, Cultivation and Competence.

In this book, he draws parallels to organizational culture and David Kersey’s MBTI temperaments.  Culture evolves from leadership and problems can arise when new leadership is brought in and their personality is opposite the existing dominant culture.

OCAI Organizational Culture Assessment

OCAI offers another culture assessment that has similarities to Schneider’s culture model.  OCAI describes Clan, Adhocracy, Market and Hierarchy cultures.   On the surface, the descriptions of OCAI’s culture types are similar to Schneiders:

Clan = Collaborative
Hierarchy = Control
Cultivation = Adhocracy
Competence = Market

The differences lie primarily in how Scheider and OCAI classify their culture types.  OCAI splits their culture types between internal and external focus on one axis and by flexibility and stability on the other.  Schneider splits his culture types by people and organizational focus on one axis and by reality and possibility focus on the other.

Subtle differences but enough that you *could* benefit from understanding both to help you understand your organization and how to shape a change program that would be the most effective.

These are 2 of many other models and theories I’ll be blogging about over the coming weeks.   It’s important to not lose sight of “the way things work around here” because organizational change is part art and part science.  Models are useful to help us understand our surroundings but sometimes you need to trust your gut to help you navigate the currents of your organization.

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