Edgar Schein has some wise counsel for young managers attempting to make rapid changes to the culture of their organisation:
'People often talk about changing their corporate culture and building a “new culture” within their organization but can you imagine trying to change the culture of the United States or France? Whether your organization’s history is long and stable or short and intense, its culture is complex and deeply ingrained in its people and operations. In order to successfully effect change, corporate culture must be taken seriously. Examining it at all levels uncovers the assumptions that determine the organization’s goals, strategies, and means of action. This knowledge is the stepping stone to promoting change within your organization.'
Dr Fons Trompenaars helps clarify culture in vivid terms:
He then contrasts this with corporate culture and provides some tools to help us analyse our own organisation:
Ricardo Semler took over the family firm, Semco, in Brazil fired with enthusiasm for a range of management fads. After a heart attack and major setbacks he began to find a different way by harnessing the enthusiasm and ability of his staff. This recognised the diversity and self organising capability of teams. The risks were outweighed by the benefits of an explosion of energy, inventiveness and flexibility. The change took a long time and involved a number of wrong turnings and setbacks:
Not everyone has the appetite for such a fundamental change.