Googling Organizational Culture revealed many folks offering
(often pricey) Organizational Culture workshops
based on theories concocted by a pair of enterprising boffins,
at the University of Michigan,
located in the picturesque village of Ann Arbor.
Though the definitive reference on their work is available for purchase from amazon, you can also get a feel for their process by reading this early paper:
A Process for Changing Organizational Culture by Kim Cameron, University of Michigan 2008
Handbook of Organizational Development, 2008: 429-445 (cited by 345)
Abstract: This chapter outlines a process for diagnosing and changing organizational culture.
It uses the Competing Values Framework to describe a validated approach to helping an organization change
from a current culture to a desired culture.
... and from the (mostly youtube) links in the References section below.
As you might expect, I was too cheap to pay for advice on this topic, so instead watched some youtube videos and read Kim's original paper.
Though not necessarily the best organizational change process (alternative citations welcome), at least this
is a concrete thing that can be discussed and analysed, and thus serve as a starting point for
discussing specific ways to improve Organizational Culture (and Perl organizational culture too).
For those seeking a Perl Monks connection to this academic paper,
notice that Ann Arbor Michigan
is a mere two hour scenic drive
from Hope College in Holland Michigan,
the sacred birthplace of Perl Monks
(if you drive via Portage Michigan,
you can further pick up some COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer’s huge manufacturing facility on the way).
Definition of Organizational Culture
Although many definitions of culture have been proposed, the two main disciplines are:
- Sociological (organizations have cultures). Assumes you can identify differences among organizational cultures, can change cultures, and can empirically measure cultures.
- Anthropological (organizations are cultures). Assumes that nothing exists in organizations except culture, and one encounters culture anytime one rubs up against any organizational phenomena.
In her 2008 paper, Cameron gave a popular and practical definition of culture as:
the taken-for-granted values, underlying assumptions, expectations,
and definitions present which characterize organizations and their members
- serves as the social glue binding an organization together; and
- represents how things are around here, affects the way members think, feel, and behave.
and further perceptively noticed that:
With very few exceptions, virtually every leading firm has developed a distinctive culture that is clearly identifiable by its key stakeholders
This distinctive culture is sometimes created by the initial founder: Walt Disney, Bill Gates, and Larry Wall, for example.
All three of these legends developed something special, something more vital than corporate strategy, market presence, or technical advantages:
the power that arises from a unique and spirited culture.
Curiously, most people are unaware of culture until suddenly confronted with a different one:
travelling to Vietnam, for example, finding yourself immersed in different noises and smells and unable to understand a word of the local lingo ... or asking a question on SO after years of posting at Perl Monks. :)
The culture of most organizations is invisible, most members have a hard time describing it, let alone consciously changing it --
that is why you need tools, such as The Competing Values Framework and the Organizational Culture Assessment Instrument (OCAI),
developed by scholars Cameron and Quinn.
Notice that Organizational Climate is distinct from Organizational Culture:
Climate is temporary, Culture enduring.
The Competing Values Framework
This framework, used to assess the dominant characteristics of organizations, differentiates on two vertical dimensions:
- Flexibility, Discretion, Dynamism (effective if: changing, adaptable, organic, e.g. Google, Nike)
- Stability, Order, Control (effective if: stable, predictable, mechanistic, e.g. Universities, Government agencies, Boeing)
and two horizontal dimensions:
- Internal orientation, Integration, Unity (harmonious internal characteristics, e.g. IBM, the IBM way)
- External orientation, Differentiation, Rivalry (effective if: competing with others outside their boundary, e.g. Toyota, Honda)
Together these two dimensions form four quadrants:
- Clan culture (Collaborate)
- Adhocracy culture (Create)
- Hierarchy culture (Control)
- Market culture (Compete)
- Formalised and structured workplace. Procedures and controls govern what people do. Leaders: coordinators, organizers, monitors.
- Maintaining a smoothly running organization is important.
- Long term: stability, predictability, efficiency, formal rules and policies hold the organization together.
- Success is defined in clear lines: authority, control, accountability, e.g. McDonalds, Govt agency on airport controls (strict guidelines for every small detail).
- Competing environment, results-oriented workplace, external environment is hostile, consumers are selective, want value.
- Leaders are hard-driving producers; competitors are tough and demanding.
- Productivity, results and profits; glue is emphasis on winning.
- Success is market share and penetration, e.g. Ikea, Walmart.
- Friendly workplace, people share a lot of themselves, leaders are mentors, facilitators, team builders, parent figures, held together by loyalty and tradition.
- Commitment is high, long-term benefit of individual development, high cohesion and morale important.
- Success is defined as internal climate and concern for people, premium on teamwork, participation and consensus, e.g. small family-owned companies, doctors without borders, wikipedia.
- Dynamic, entrepreneurial culture, people take risks, leaders: visionary, innovative, risk-oriented.
- Glue: Commitment to experimentation and innovation, to be at the leading edge, readiness for change is essential.
- Long term emphasis is rapid growth.
- Success is creating unique & original products and services, e.g. start-ups.
Relationship between the four quadrants:
- Each side represents opposites
- Flexibility vs Stability
- Internal vs External
- Competing on the Diagonal: Clan (internal focus) v Market (external focus); Adhocracy (external organic) v Hierarchy (internal control)
The competing on opposite sides of each quadrant give rise to the name of the model.
Why Change Organizational Culture?
The Competing Values Framework Introduction youtube (around the 12:15 mark)
gives a fascinating case study of how Organizational Cultures change over time.
Steve Jobs, a charismatic entrepreneurial leader, was a great cultural fit for
the (Startup culture) Apple of the 1970s ... only to get fired in 1985 for
his chaotic management style, when Apple needed more controls and standard procedures ...
then finally re-hired in 1997 to heroically resurrect the company after it started
having a hard time inventing new products!
That is, Apple culture evolved
from Adhocracy (Apple II era) to Adhocracy/Clan (Macintosh era) to Hierarchy (John Scully era)
to Hierarchy/Market then balanced Hierarchy/Market/Adhocracy/Clan (on Jobs return).
How does a language win? By being compelling enough to be used for new things.
It's not solely a technical concern; it's a concern of the language community and ecosystem.
-- Why Perl Didn't Win (essay from outspeaking.com)
As indicated in the essay cited above, a good reason for Perl to change its culture may be to
make it more attractive for new projects (compared to competing languages).
Update: see this response for a present-day example of a domain in which Perl is less compelling than Python.
Of course, if Perl was a commercial enterprise, one business strategy to cope with losing market share
may be to seek a merger with Python
... thus allowing our new customers to write some truly astonishing code:
# copy stdin to stdout, except for lines starting with #
if dollar_underscore =eq= "#":
Sorry, couldn't resist. :)
Note that if you choose not to attempt to explicitly change your organization's culture, it will change anyway. Culture is evolving all the time.
The Seven Steps To Culture Change
- Clarifying meaning.
- Identifying stories.
- Determining strategic initiatives.
- Identifying small wins.
- Crafting metrics, measures, and milestones.
- Communication and symbols.
- Leadership development.
The Organizational Culture Assessment Instrument (OCAI)
It might be fun to create a Perl Monks poll to see how people rate P5P culture or Perl Monks culture.
1. DOMINANT CHARACTERISTICS
The organization is:
A. a very special place. It is like an extended family. People seem to share a lot of themselves.
B. a very dynamic and entrepreneurial place. People are willing to stick their necks out and take risks.
C. very production oriented. A major concern is with getting the job done. People are very competitive and achievement oriented.
D. a very formalized and structured place. Bureaucratic procedures generally govern what people do.
2. ORGANIZATIONAL LEADERS
The leaders of the organization are generally considered to be:
A. mentors, facilitators, or parent figures.
B. entrepreneurs, innovators, or risk takers.
C. hard-drivers, producers, or competitors.
D. coordinators, organizers, or efficiency experts.
3. MANAGEMENT OF EMPLOYEES
The management style in the organization is characterized by:
A. teamwork, consensus and participation.
B. individual risk-taking, innovation, flexibility, and uniqueness.
C. hard-driving competitiveness, goal directedness, and achievement.
D. careful monitoring of performance, longevity in position, and predictability.
4. ORGANIZATION GLUE
The glue that holds the organization together is:
A. loyalty and mutual trust. Commitment to this organization runs high.
B. orientation toward innovation and development. There is an emphasis on being on the cutting edge.
C. the emphasis on production and goal accomplishment. Marketplace aggressiveness is a common theme.
D. formal rules and policies. Maintaining a smooth running organization is important.
5. STRATEGIC EMPHASES
The organization emphasizes:
A. human development. High trust, openness and participation persist.
B. acquiring new resources and meeting new challenges. Trying new things and prospecting for new opportunities are valued.
C. competitive actions and achievement. Measurement targets and objectives are dominant.
D. permanence and stability. Efficient, smooth operations are important.
6. CRITERIA OF SUCCESS
The organization defines success on the basis of:
A. development of human resources, teamwork, and concern for people.
B. having the most unique or the newest products. It is a product leader and innovator.
C. market penetration and market share. Competitive market leadership is key.
D. efficiency. Dependable delivery, smooth scheduling, and low cost production are critical.
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