In last months Insights I introduced the concept of Organizational Culture. Since Organizational Culture is such a broad and important topic it was divided into three separate New Synergist Insights. Organizational Culture (part II) focuses on cultural assessment in an organization.

Leaders play the most important role in creating, supporting, and maintaining culture in their organizations. In fact, leaders savvy leaders work hard to create strong cohesive cultures. These strong cultures enable groups to take rapid and decisive actions in response to a performance issues or other types of organizational issues.

Unfortunately, strong cultures can also support conformity based on basic assumptions and shared values even when the needs and desires of a firms stakeholders (employees, customers, owners, etc.) change. This is particularly true if the culture is not adaptive.

What is the culture like in your organization? Answers to the following questions can help you make an assessment:

  1. Do members of your organization view their relationship to stakeholders as harmonious, dominant, or submissive?
  2. How does your organization “find truth”? Is truth “predetermined” or is it revealed and discovered based on data or discussion.
  3. How does the organization feel about “Human Nature”? Is Human nature good or evil, neutral, predictable or not?
  4. How does the organization define work and play? What are the right things for humans in terms of work and self development? Should subordinates be active or passive?
  5. How do people relate to each other? Should groups be cooperative, competitive, individualistic, or collaborative? How do organizational members view authority?

The answers to the five questions listed above determine how an organization works including the manner in which decisions are made, the reaction to a crisis, workplace climate, risk aversion, and innovation.

Arguably the most important reason for understanding and managing Organizational Culture is the impact on performance. In the June issue of New Synergist Insights I will discuss Organizational Culture (part III) focusing on performance.