Organizational culture myths abound. What is the real meaning of organizational culture?
So much stuff (mostly nonsense) has been said and written about organizational culture that, even if you have a good understanding of it, it may be hard to tell the myths from the nonsense.
To begin with, organizational culture, any culture, is an emergent property of the organization’s structure or design principles.
As such, it cannot be changed or dealt with directly. It’s plain common sense and not that difficult to comprehend.
So, don’t be fooled by those talking about how to change your organizational culture, especially those offering a series of entertaining but useless games and schemes that address only the shape and form of your organization (its phenotype).
Instead, start thinking about your organizational structure, namely, its Design Principles. What are they? How were they designed? Have they been even designed to begin with?
And the most important question of all: What type of hierarchy do you have in your organization at the genotypic level?
Don’t be fooled by all the talk about hierarchies such as “flat,” “horizontal,” or any shape or form. You should care about them only as much as you care about the color of your building. What really matters is the organizational structure and design, e.g., is it anti-seismic? Can it handle black swan events?
The good news is that you only have two choices or types of hierarchies:
- Dominant (restrictive and tropophobic)
- 2) Non-dominant (enhancive and tropophilic)
It’s that simple!
Look at the universe! Every single system moves either inwards or outwards.
Now, there is a 99.9% probability that you have a Dominant Hierarchy (Behavior-restricting or tropophobic), like most organizations, despite their beloved shapes and/or forms, nothing will work under this type of restrictive hierarchy.
Thus, you need to transform your Dominant Hierarchy into a Non-dominant one ( Behavior-enhancive or Tropophilic).
You can get started with a full and hard day’s work but must keep in mind that this should be the very beginning of a never-ending process!
That’s correct, once you get started on this process, you cannot stop, for that would be analogous to stop breathing and stop learning.
With the right organizational design principle in place, i.e., an enhancive and tropophilic hierarchy, there is an immediate mindset and culture shift!
All the pathological implications of a dominant hierarchy, i.e., lack of accountability, low engagement, high stress, etc., etc., will disappear by default.
The amount of responsibility, opportunity to learn and the variety of work is no longer felt as either too much or too little, but optimal. Mutual support and respect build up, a true sense of the meaningfulness of work begins to emerge, and the vision of a desirable future becomes clear to everyone within the organization!
The enhancive and tropophilic organizational design principles know that people are best able to improve their organization’s relationships with the external and internal environment, when those who actually do the work are in charge of their own work, thus transforming restrictive and tropophobic bureaucratic structures into enhancive and tropophilic democracies.
Principles of participative design implicitly prohibit leaders from devising plans for others to implement. These principles also require the organization to constantly evolve its organizational structure based on a culture of transparency, integrity, and trust driven by moral authority.
There you have it!
I trust you now stop talking about changing or closing the culture gap and start focusing on your organizational structure.
Here’s To The Health Of Your Organizational Structure!
JC Wandemberg Ph.D.
President & Founder
About the author: Dr. Wandemberg is an international consultant, stocks trader, keynote speaker, published author, professor, and analyst of economic, environmental, social, managerial, marketing, and political issues. For the past 30 years Dr. Wandemberg has collaborated with corporations, communities, and organizations to integrate sustainability through self-transformation processes and Open Systems Design Principles, thus, catalyzing a Culture of Trust, Transparency, and Integrity.