Change an Org Culture vs understanding Org Culture?

Over the past few months there has been a variety of discussions, threads, blogs and articles on organizational culture. There is a strong theme in many of them that suggests that they need to change their respective culture? I question this because I am a strong believer in needing to understand the “As Is” before one sets off to the “To Be”…

A few random definitions of “Culture”
  • The collective values and beliefs of a group of people
  • The ideas, customs, and social behavior of a particular people or society
  • The behavior exhibited by people in the absence of authority (i.e. when no one is around how do people behave?)

If these definitions ring true then could it be a case that a given group of people are simply misunderstood and it isn’t culture at all its the person interpreting the culture? Could the behaviors being exhibited be symptom of a deficiency in the leadership, direction or simple communication from management?

A key attribute of a good leader is empathy…So why not start with understanding culture in an organization before setting out to change it? Who knows by actually engaging and seeking to learn more about different cultures and sub cultures within an organization may be the secret catalyst to other things like process (eg Communication) which in turn could aid surfacing the true or complete culture and not just part of it?

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