Shadows on the wall: Organizational culture and change



Part 1
ORGANIZATIONAL culture is an organization’s way of life. It is “a system of shared assumptions, values, and beliefs, which governs how people behave in organizations.” Based on this culture system, the organization has its unique way of “doing things” evident in its policies and practices. This culture is shown in how organizational constituents“communicate, dress and act and perform in their jobs.” It shows how they regard authority, “power relationships, conventions, conflict management processes, dispute resolution processes.”
< B3.cfm>How tight the culture is, how deeply the cultural elements are embedded in the psyche of organizational constituents, influences their fanatical adherence to their practices no matter what.They won’t attempt to benchmark and borrow best practice or innovate as maybe called for, by a changing environment. The sum total of a culture translates in the “readiness and responsiveness”of its constituents to change, their “resistance to change;” and the “results of the transformation” as well.

“Transformation alters the culture of the institution by changing select underlying assumptions and institutional behaviors, processes, and products.” Changing, organizational culture “ is the principal means in preparing an environment for transformation, a yardstick for assessing whether or not a transformational change has actually taken place, and a means of achieving the desired results of an innovation.” When constituents are “able to address issues of institutional culture in their strategic planning,” it is more likely “that transformation happens.”<>

Culture sensitivity is a must.In a Management doctorate major in leadership and organization course, I have repeatedly suggested to my class to be aware of the way things are done, how they are done and why and be sensitive to these practices of the workplace they intend to be involved with.Such should be, whether as a higher up, as middle level, a ranked or unranked constituent. Indeed long lasting desirable change in an organization cannot be possible without understanding workplace culture.

Three kinds of constituents.There are three kinds of constituents in an organization. The first are likened to care takers; they prefer to maintain the status quo. They adhere to what they have been used to — such as policies and practices, even if such prove to be outdated or non-functional. The second, are the undertakers. Suspicious of initiatives, theybury ideas even before these ideas are born. Neither the red or deep blue sea will prod them to give these ideas a chance to see the light of day. The third kind are risk takers. They accept and act on studied risks.A studied risk is an educated risk; “a risk for which the calculated potential payoff outweighs the calculated possible loss, given the knowledge one has about the circumstances.” < 157411/what-does-educated-risk-mean>Changeentails risks. But studied risks help organizations successfully navigate and facilitate growth.

Four basic types of organizational culture. The web gives us several typologies of organizational culture but the basic ones seem to be these four since their extensions are combinations of the basictypes. One is referred to as “a clan culture,” characterized by a friendly working environment.

Continuing professional development (CPD) of its constituents is strategic and timely, and enough
resources are allocated for the purpose. The family concept shows in how constituents refer toother memberseither older or younger kin to them. The leader is regarded as a parent figure, a father or mother.Constituents would refer to their lady boss as “Momsie,” or of a male boss, as “Popsie,” and if middle aged, as “Manong or Kuya” or “Manang or Ate.” Respect and obedience to those in authority demonstrates a clan’s high power culture. This clan-like togetherness results in collaboration and teamwork and breeds commitment and loyalty. In such cases, tradition is strongly etched in their work-life which usually results in preference for practices they have been used to. Another type is an adhocracy culture characterized by an active, innovative, creative working environment. Risk-taking is characteristic of its leader.Constituents are empowered and are free to try new ideas. Their value lies in their being able to raise high theorganization’s niche by innovating on “products and services.” The leader and constituents tend to be visionary and active, “creating new standards, anticipating needs, continuous improvement, finding creative solutions.” A third type of organizational culture is referred to as market culture—obviously is results-based.Constituents finish work and get things done.The leader is a hard driver declaring with clarity management’s expectations, deadlines, and sets accomplishment metrics. In such a culture, competition is a long term goal. The organization plots its strategy on focused goals. Its reward system is based on accomplishments relative to goal achievement.As in Sales, the over reach translates in commissions and certificates of recognition. A fourth and last basic type is hierarchy culture. Such an organization accomplishes its objectives within a structured organizational system along“a set of rules, policies and procedures.” Constituents have to communicate and act according to a set protocol considering the rank levels of position occupants.<> Formallyorganized teamsare assigned tasks, are monitored whilst accomplishing such projects and areformatively evaluated. Summative evaluation follows at final accomplishment of a project.
How do leaders transform the deeply etched culture of constituents to blend with organizational culture for organizational success? What interventions would craft a shared vision to drive organizational transformation?Introducing desirable change is no holiday. Purposive and hard work is at hand.

(To be continued)



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