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Organizational Culture (Part V): Behavior

by eyepopslikeamosquito (Bishop)
on Jul 16, 2021 at 10:34 UTC ( #11135065=perlmeditation: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

Governance vs Management vs Leadership

Governance is the strategic task of setting the organization's goals, direction, limitations and accountability frameworks. Management is the allocation of resources and overseeing the day-to-day operations of the organization. One way to think about this is that Governance determines the "What?" - what the organization does and what it should become in the future. Management determines the "How?" - how the organization will reach those goals and aspirations.

-- What is the difference between Governance and Management?

Management consists of controlling a group or a set of entities to accomplish a goal. Leadership refers to an individual's ability to influence, motivate, and enable others to contribute toward organizational success. Influence and inspiration separate leaders from managers, not power and control.

-- Three Differences Between Leaders and Managers

Though you need all three, my feeling is that Leadership is the most elusive and the most vital ... which might explain why CEOs are paid so much.

Perl Governance

I'm deeply embarrassed to admit that I learnt just the other day that Perl Governance is the responsibility of The Perl Foundation (TPF), a non-profit based in Holland Michigan (this picturesque and charming city also happens to be the sacred birthplace of Perl Monks! ... making it an outpost of both Dutch and Perl culture and tradition in the American mid-west :).

Browsing the TPF web site, I see Dr Damian Conway was the worthy recipient of the first ever TPF grant in 2001 and that TPF are currently conducting research to:

  • Identify the shared values of the Perl community
  • Create a vision of the Perl ecosystem in years to come
the goal being to provide information on which TPF, community groups, and individuals can make informed decisions and plans for the future (the recent Gobby survey formed part of this early research).

Note that, in addition to Governance, TPF also performs Fundraising and Marketing.

Culture vs Behavior

Company cultures are like country cultures. Never try to change one. Try, instead, to work with what you've got.

-- Peter Drucker

Though this appears to be a misquote ... repeated 128,000 times (128,001 now ;) ... the point behind this dodgy Drucker quote can be found in this longer less dodgy one:

What these business needs require are changes in behavior. But “changing culture” is not going to produce them. Culture — no matter how defined — is singularly persistent. Nearly 50 years ago, Japan and Germany suffered the worst defeats in recorded history, with their values, their institutions and their culture discredited. But today’s Japan and today’s Germany are unmistakably Japanese and German in culture, no matter how different this or that behavior. In fact, changing behavior works only if it can be based on the existing “culture.”

In the full article, Drucker derided cultural change as a management fad, urging companies to focus instead on changing behaviors in order to achieve their desired results. Stronger, he contended that changing behavior works only if based on the existing culture - presumably because culture is intrinsically "sticky" and resistant to change.

Culture eats strategy for breakfast

-- Peter Drucker again

Wait, doesn't this contradict the earlier quote exhorting you never to attempt to change company culture? Oh well, I guess I just don't have what it takes to be a multi-millionaire management consultant. :)

Focusing on behavior, rather than culture, leads us inevitably to Codes of Conduct.

Codes of Conduct

A code of conduct is a set of rules outlining the norms, rules, and responsibilities or proper practices of an individual party or an organization.

A code of conduct can be an important part in establishing an inclusive culture, but it is not a comprehensive solution on its own. An ethical culture is created by the organization's leaders who manifest their ethics in their attitudes and behavior. Studies of codes of conduct in the private sector show that their effective implementation must be part of a learning process that requires training, consistent enforcement, and continuous measurement/improvement. Simply requiring members to read the code is not enough to ensure that they understand it and will remember its contents. The proof of effectiveness is when employees/members feel comfortable enough to voice concerns and believe that the organization will respond with appropriate action.

-- Code of conduct (wikipedia)

Enron was the company that espoused those wonderful core values and made these compelling statements in its 64-page code of ethics booklet - and we now know how “ethically” many of their employees behaved.

-- Code of ethics blog

The Enron scandal taught us that implementing an effective Organizational Code of Conduct ain't easy, requiring strong Leadership, exemplary role models, and significant investments in training, consistent enforcement, and continuous measurement and improvement.

Curiously, the earliest Open Source Code of Conduct proposal I could find originated with a Perl programmer! -- one Coraline Ada Ehmke, "who began writing software in 1994 using the Perl programming language" ... though it seems she's defected to Ruby nowadays.
(Update: I'm reliably informed she even has an old Perl Monks account! ... wouldn't it be great if she replied to this node? ;)

As you can see from the many references listed below, Codes of Conduct seem to have become routine nowadays in Open Source communities, and in the broader community too.


Building trust across cultures notes the two types of trust:

  • Cognitive trust: based on the confidence you feel in another person's accomplishments, skills and reliability. This is trust from the head.
  • Affective trust: arises from feelings of emotional closeness, empathy or friendship. This is trust from the heart.

Cognitive trust is easily and commonly built in Open Source communities, such as P5P, simply by consistently producing lots of high quality patches. On Perl Monks too, it's easily built by consistently producing high quality answers. Though affective trust seems harder to build in the Open Source world, it's a great way to improve teamwork (and mental health) -- as described at Conflict in Teams. BTW, the trust hormone Oxytocin is associated with affective trust -- and also implicated in Dog-human emotional bonding.

So I feel that seeking out effective ways to build trust (of both kinds) in the Perl community is worth a shot ... and that effective, inspirational Leadership and role models will help enormously in this endeavour. What do you think?

I'd like to end this meditation with a heartfelt plea from one of my favourite monks, the inimitable Discipulus (with whom I've built affective trust :):

At the end we need a new ethic. No one, at every level of contributions, must feel harassed or damaged anymore, please, no one. We have a lovable language; are we able to build a lovable community? I have a strong suspect that a Code of Conduct is not enough at all. A new ethic of collaboration must be defined. The little power we have must be dissected, redistributed and organized sanely and it cannot only be the origin of judgements and bans.

-- Discipulus in Re: Pumpking resignation -- a new ethic and Re: Organizational Culture (Part I): Introduction -- autogestion

Other Articles in This Series

Code of Conduct References

Perl Monks References

  • Comment on Organizational Culture (Part V): Behavior

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Re: Organizational Culture (Part V): Behavior
by Anonymous Monk on Jul 18, 2021 at 07:20 UTC
    Yeah, I really didn't start making a lot of trouble until I fell in with those Ruby folks. :) Perl will always have a special place in my heart. I wrote a primitive (and very early) intrusion detection system that saved my company's site from.... CodeRed I think? and we shipped its logs to Norton on day zero, which helped them fingerprint it. The source code was published in 2600! Another favorite Perl memory was going to work at a .NET shop in the late 90s, and they expressly forbid me from doing anything in Perl. So I figured out how to compile my Perl modules into COM objects. Oh, and at the same time that the Rails folks were rolling out betas of Basecamp, I was working independently on a proto-rails-like-framework written entirely in Perl. Let's talk sometime! I'm easy to get in touch with. Love y'all. --Coraline

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