Saturday, November 3, 2012

Corporate Culture Re-inventing: Is Hybrid Model the Best?


Culture is the most invisible, but powerful fabric weaved around organization and surrounding in our society as well, culture like water, can make enterprise ship float, push it toward right direction, it may also drag down the ship, even sink it.

There are many culture masters and varying culture models around, however, at the age of digitalization, those models designed in 20th century may have limitation to adapt to the pace of change and uncertainty facing in organization today. First of all, what are those good business culture models anyway?

1. Different Culture Models

(1)  Lewis Model of Culture

Lewis Model emphasize on societal culture description, he thought:

  • Cultural behavior is the end product of collected wisdom, filtered and passed down through hundreds of generations as shared core beliefs, values, assumptions, notions, and persistent action patterns
  • Culture is a collective programming of the mind that distinguishes the members of one human group from another.
  • The iceberg of culture: art, food, fashion, behavior, communication patterns, body language, mass media. custom is just about scratching the surface of in-depth culture discipline,
Culture is deeper, culture is changeable, and the speed of culture change may also be expedited as the world becomes more hyper-connected and interdependent. It may take seven years to be good at a language, but it takes seventeen or longer years to master a culture.....

(2)  Hofstede Organizational Onion Cultural model


Geert Hofstede (1991) also sees culture as "the collective programming of the mind which distinguishes the members of one group or category of people from another." He proposes four layers, each of which includes the lower level. 'Culture' being like an onion can be peeled, layer-by layer. The figure on the left shows how Hofstede illustrates the differences between personality, culture, and human nature.




(3)  Hampden-Turner Trompenaars Two-Layered Culture Model

Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner (1997) adopt a similar onion-like model of culture. However, their model expands the core level of the very basic two-layered model, rather than the outer level. In their view, culture is made up of basic assumptions at the core level. These 'basic assumptions' are somewhat similar to 'values' in the Hofstede model.

  • Universalism vs. Particularism: Universalism is about finding broad and general rules. When no rules fit, it finds the best rule. Particularism is about finding exceptions. When no rules fit, it judges the case on its own merits, rather than trying to force-fit an existing rule.
  • Analyzing vs. Integrating: Analyzing, decomposes to find the detail. It assumes that God is in the details and that decomposition is the way to success. It sees people who look at the big picture as being out of touch with reality. Integrating brings things together to build the big picture. It assumes that if you have your head in the weeds you will miss the true understanding.
  • Individualism vs. Communitarianism: Individualism is about the rights of the individual. It seeks to let each person grow or fail on their own, and sees group-focus as denuding the individual of their inalienable rights. Communitarianism is about the rights of the group or society. It seeks to put the family, group, company and country before the individual. It sees individualism as selfish and short-sighted.
  • Inner-directed vs. Outer-directed: Inner-directed is about thinking and personal judgment, ‘in our heads’. It assumes that thinking is the most powerful tool and that considered ideas and intuitive approaches are the best way. Outer-directed is seeking data in the outer world. It assumes that we live in the 'real world' and that is where we should look for our information and decisions. 
  • Time as sequence vs. Time as synchronization: Time as sequence sees events as separate items in time, sequence one after another. It finds order in a serried array of actions that happen one after the other. Time as synchronization sees events in parallel, synchronized together. It finds order in coordination of multiple efforts.
  • Achieved status vs. Ascribed status: Achieved status is about gaining status through performance. It assumes individuals and organizations earn and lose their status every day, and that other approaches are recipes for failure. Ascribed status is about gaining status through other means, such as seniority. It assumes status is acquired by right rather than daily performance, which may be as much luck as judgment. It finds order and security in knowing where status is and stays.
  • Equality vs. Hierarchy: Equality is about all people having equal status. It assumes we all have equal rights, irrespective of birth or other gift. Hierarchy is about people being superior to others. It assumes that order happens when few are in charges and others obey through the scalar chain of command.

(4)  Deal and Kennedy's cultural model

In this model, culture has been classified into four categories:

  • Work-hard, play-hard culture: This has rapid feedback/reward and low risk, leading to:  Stress coming from quantity of work rather than uncertainty. High-speed action leading to high-speed recreation.
  • Tough-guy macho culture: This has rapid feedback/reward and high risk, leading to: Stress coming from high risk and potential loss/gain of reward. Focus on the present rather than the longer-term future.
  • Process culture: This has slow feedback/reward and low risk, leading to: Low stress, plodding work, comfort and security. Stress may come from internal politics and stupidity of the system. Development of bureaucracies and other ways of maintaining the status quo. Focus on security of the past and of the future.
  • Bet-the-company culture: This has slow feedback/reward and high risk, leading to: Stress coming from high risk and delay before knowing if actions have paid off. The long view is taken, but then much work is put into making sure things happen as planned.


(5) Denison Organizational Culture Model

·       ADAPTABILITY
·       MISSION
·       CONSISTENCY
·       INVOLVEMENT

(6)  Edgar Schein's Model of Organizational Culture

According to Edgar Schein - Organizations do not adopt a culture in a single day, instead it is formed in due course of time as the employees go through various changes, adapt to the external environment and solve problems. They gain from their past experiences and start practicing it everyday thus forming the culture of the workplace. The new employee also strives hard to adjust to the new culture and enjoy a stress free life.

Schein believed that there are three levels in an organization culture.

  • Artifacts: The first level is the characteristics of the organization which can be easily viewed, heard and felt by individuals collectively known as artifacts. The dress code of the employees, office furniture, facilities, behavior of the employees, mission and vision of the organization all come under artifacts and go a long way in deciding the culture of the workplace.
  • Values: The next level according to Schein which constitute the organization culture is the values of the employees. The values of the individuals working in the organization play an important role in deciding the organization culture. The thought process and attitude of employees have deep impact on the culture of any particular organization. What people actually think matters a lot for the organization? The mindset of the individual associated with any particular organization influences the culture of the workplace.
  • Assumed Values: The third level is the assumed values of the employees which can’t be measured but do make a difference to the culture of the organization. There are certain beliefs and facts which stay hidden but do affect the culture of the organization. The inner aspects of human nature come under the third level of organization culture. The organizations follow certain practices which are not discussed often but understood on their own. Such rules form the third level of the organization culture.

2. Assess Current Organizational Culture via Queries

Most of enterprise has primary culture and many sub-culture as well. Enterprise/Business Architects can play significant role in assessing, analyzing, and redesigning culture, their task is not to completely "design a complex structure like a culture"; but to REDESIGN some aspects in an existing organizational culture. Start with the existing culture, analyze it, assess its effectiveness, and then redesign some aspects. A series questions to help understand culture:

Q1 How is culture shaped and created or does it just happen and is not manageable?
A1 Culture is Learnt, Knowable, Measurable, Modifiable, and Manageable. Culture is shaped by the values, beliefs, etc. of the founders, in the first instance, and subsequently by the values, beliefs, etc. of the Board/CEO. That said, spirit of organization comes from top.

Q2 Additional what are measures on culture?
A2 Culture can be measured and managed against some "model of the desired culture".  Cultures can be considered to perform well or perform poorly according to the needs of the organization. There is a people version on CMMI called People-CMMI.

Q3 Is heritage and the caste or class system prevalent in many countries part of the enterprise culture?
A3: Societal culture and enterprise culture mutually influence with each other, as people bring their value to work, working culture will also change individual’s behavior and beliefs, and further influence the culture in community and society.

3.Retool Corporation Culture via Framework & Methodology

In order to analyze, assess, redesign culture, the enterprise architect need conceptual framework & methodology to demonstrate that analysis, assessment, and redesign of enterprise business culture is possible and practical.

(1) A framework within which to conceptualize, understand & structure the culture;

Conceptual Framework -- can conceptualize culture as consisting of three parts:
A) The bottom part which deals with the creation & maintenance of the culture
B) A middle part which deals with how the culture is implemented, and
C) The top part which deals with how the culture is expressed on a day-to-day basis.
These three parts apply to all organizational cultures, irrespective of whether they are 'for-profit', 'not for profit', private or public enterprises

(2) A methodology for analyzing, assessing, and redesigning culture in a consistent manner.

Conceptual Methodology –outlined a brief 4 step approach.
(A) Analysis: Identifies conflicts/problems, and Causes of conflicts/problems;
(B) Change What; Identify what needs to be changed, and why it needs to be changed;
(C) Change How: Determine the Ways and Means of effecting change; Small step/success/reinforcement approach; Identify dependencies and conflicts;
(D) Change When: Step-by-step plan and road map for implementing and realizing change

(3) Social network analysis is a technique which can be used, as one of many techniques, for analyzing, assessing, and changing organizational culture.
(A) Culture is not one level but many. What sociology refers to as culture is reaffirmation of values through totems, mores, and history. These values are driven by deeper primal motives which is the mysterious need that humans have to connect with each other. The structure of these connections transcends culture and even values.
(B) Culture is what is internal to the group as these connections solidify over time. You make the reference to new members of a group being socialized. That is a second step that happens after assimilation. Before any values are passed, a person can be assimilated within the group structure. In many cases there is a initiation period after assimilation that starts the socialization process. This is comprised of a set of totemic references that reinforces the group support for a common set of values.
(C) The transition of an individual from one group/status to another group/status consists of three stages: separation, transition, incorporation. Most organizations call the first step "orientation". For EA, focus on redesigning the components of culture to make it innovative, productive and positive.

Either organizational culture or societal culture, culture is complex, culture is collective habit, culture is your brand, culture reinvention is worthy of effort. 

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