Tag Archives: organisational culture

Designing culture

An interesting summary post here from Emergent by Design on organisational culture and learning for adaptive capacity giving a summary of The Culture Game book.

I would particularly pick out the following

Treating various tasks and interactions as experiments has been a way to give myself permission to ‘fail.’ When that’s followed by an honest retrospective and an openness to learning from the experience, habits seem to change quickly.

  • announce your intent taken as making a call for help or the need for support
  • conduct frequent experiments alongside developing a iterative and adaptive approach to work:

Frequent experimentation means frequent learning.

  • manage visually

One wall of my office is graced with whiteboard paint, another is covered in corkboards that have my personal kanban daily workflow, weekly and monthly goals, book chapter themes I’m fleshing out, storyboards for video projects, and various photos that inspire me. Keeping up with these boards gives me a tremendous sense of location in the larger narrative of my life, and a sense of control and progress.

  • open the space and be playful as work should be open, flexible and fun!

I’m frequently amazed at how little people think about organisational culture as linked to organisational success – you’ve got to remember that culture eats strategy for breakfast

A New Agenda for Organisational Effectiveness?

Earlier this week, I went to a CIPD Knowledge into Practice Seminar and launch of the CIPD book, People & Organisational Development: a new agenda for organisational effectiveness.

The authors argued that the dominant business paradigm of shareholder value is nolonger fit for purpose – we,the public, expect more from companies as “good” citizens. In other words, a return to the stakeholder approach to business and management. Mirroring such changes in the field of HR, they argued that the business-centric approach of the Business Partner model was similarly nolonger appropriate and should be replaced by a more humanistic approach integrating organisational development in to new perspectives on organisational effectiveness. It would be interesting to hear the debate with the CIPDs work on “business savvy” which seems to me to be very focused on the “non-humanist” and “people as assets” perspective.

They proposed a four pronged approach to the required new approach involving

  • language and action – a narrative turn in analysing management practices
  • authenticity and mutuality – acknowledging a two way relationship between the employee and employer. Which itself is highly fluid – as the point was made at the event, as an employee is the offer of enhanced “employability” competences enough of an offer if there is a longer-term job shortage (although this now seems less likely than was thought a few months ago)
  • leadership and management – although what this entailed other than managing people differently and dispersing leadership throughout the organisation wasn’t really clear
  • paradox and ambiguity – as something managers need to be more comfortable dealing with. We could here to approaches like the Cynefin framework or polarity management.
  • What I’m hoping from the book is that we see how these concepts can be operationalised in to [daily] management practice … we shall see

    web/ enterprise 2.0 – mindset and culture

    Interesting post from Penny Edwards here on the recognition that enterprise 2.0 adoption is a mind-set, and therefore, cultural, issue rather than a technology one. In particular, to be truly effective, it requires a different conceptualisation of management as being something focused on motivation, empowerment, support and co-ordination rather than organising, controlling, commanding and (possibly) even leading.

    change management and social media

    An interesting post from Leandro Herrero on change in organisations and the use of social media. He states:

    I was interviewed recently by Sean Dodson at The Guardian and we got talking about social media as a disruptive technology. I hadn’t given the subject much thought at the time, but I have done since. I have no doubt that social media channels – blogs, wikis, social networking sites, etc – can be used to trigger deep and fundamental change inside organisations. They can bypass the hierarchy, boost transparency, stimulate grassroots conversations, identify issues, give the silent a voice, reduce email traffic, trigger action. What’s more, if adopted and championed by those all-important change agents, these tools could help spread the virus of change at lightening speed.

    I would place an emphasis on the word can here as social media tools are just that, tools and mechanisms. As I’ve said before (here and here) its all about the culture – give or take issues of physical proximity and access, anyone can walk up to a CEO (they’re only human and at some point in their lives had their parents buy their underwear for them) and discuss any work issues, however, many/ most organisations have a culture/ norms that do not allow that sort of behaviour. Social media may make such a discussion easier but if the culture and norms do not allow it then it ain’t going to happen whether there’s in-house social media or not.

    Having said that, how much better do you think most organisations would operate if they had an encouraged that openess as a cultural norm?

    evolving culture

    An interesting post from Jamie Notter on the evolution of organisational cultures. He is very clear that organsiational culture can be a management issue – you can choose to manage it or you can ignore it … The reasons for managing the evolution of culture are not stated altho their pretty self-evident and the way to manage the evolution of culture is in

    some change in behavior on your part. That is where culture changes: in YOUR behavior.

    sensible stuff – be the change you want to be, etc. – but an important element that often appears to be down played in discussions of cultural change is alignment with the ‘harder’ processes and structures of the organisation. There is little point (and alot of frustration) in trying to promote a culture of customer service excellence (for example) when your systems and procedures work against your people being able to deliver. They may be able to fight ‘the system’ for a while but will become exhausted and frustrated and so revert back to old behaviours or what ‘the system’ enables them to do. Culture change is about changes in behaviour but you need the infrastructure to enable those behaviours to happen.

    Web 2.0 in the Learning Ecosystem – link

    Interesting post here from Jon Ingham on organisations’ use of web 2.0 technologies. It seems to me that the organisational focus on the efficiency gains above the transformative potential of web 2.0 points to the cultural barriers to effective implementation of enterprise 2.0 outlined here by Todd Stephens. I’d be interested to see something like a Cost of Investment calculation on the negative impacts of retaining command and control style managerial practices at the same time as investing in 2.0 technologies. If you saw clear opportunities for increased effectiveness and collaboration that was blocked by management/ procedure, what would that do to your engagement, motivation, efficiency etc?

    Enterprise 2.0 – it shouldn’t be about the technology

    A nice post here from Stephen Dale about web 2.0 as the “blinding light of Web 2.0 hype seems to be obscuring the fact that the most important aspect in building any community (of interest or practice or whatever) is the people and NOT the technology. Though I do appear to be an increasingly isolated voice on this point.” I think this applies as strongly – and probably more so – to organisations and the whole momentum around enterprise 2.0. As I’ve argued before, the valua proposition of enterprise 2.0 is the impact on organisational culture (learning-centric, non-hierarchical, outward focused, collaborative, etc…. ) and not the technology itself.

    (Of course, I can also be accused of taking all the positive potentials of organisations and labelling them E2.0 but that is probably a separate issues!)