What is organisational culture?
Michael D. Watkins (Harvard Business Review July 2013) attempted to define organisational culture. The responses he gathered included:
- “Culture is how organisations ‘do things’.” — Robbie Katanga
- “In large part, culture is a product of compensation.” — Alec Haverstick
- “Organisational culture defines a jointly shared description of an organization from within.” — Bruce Perron
- “Organisational culture is the sum of values and rituals which serve as ‘glue’ to integrate the members of the organization.” — Richard Perrin
- “Organisational culture is civilization in the workplace.” — Alan Adler
- “Culture is the organisation’s immune system.” — Michael Watkins
- “Organisational culture [is shaped by] the main culture of the society we live in, albeit with greater emphasis on particular parts of it.” — Elizabeth Skringar
- “It over simplifies the situation in large organisations to assume there is only one culture… and it’s risky for new leaders to ignore the sub-cultures.” — Rolf Winkler
- “An organisation [is] a living culture… that can adapt to the reality as fast as possible.” — Abdi Osman Jama
In summarising his research, Watkins concluded that there is no definitive answer as to what organisational culture is, but everybody agreed that all organisations have one. He suggested that these perspectives provide the kind of holistic, nuanced view of organisational culture that is needed by leaders in order to truly understand their organisations - and to have any hope of changing them for the better.
How can we help?
We can work with you to assess your current organisational culture and identify how to engage your people so what they do feels meaningful and purpose-driven.
Solutions for Developing your Organisational Culture
Engaging the organisation
Many companies measure their workforce engagement. But how can you make sure this is not just an exercise but a real force for transformation? We’ll work with you to dig beneath surface engagement, identify blindspots and create a solution to help every leader and team thrive.
Action learning supports shared learning from real business cases in a safe and inspiring environment. It generates ideas and fosters the sense of support to move situations forward, aligning ways of working within an organisation. We teach participants a format (or several creative ones) to discuss ‘difficult’ topics in the future.
Creating a feedback culture
Build on your understanding of how different cultures think and communicate - and how that affects the giving and receiving feedback. Develop your organisation's listening skills, its handling of difficult messages and inclusion of feed-forwards to cultivate a healthier organisational culture that is set for growth.