Organizational Culture Analysis

Applying Culture Principles To Your Organization

Organizational culture analysis brings out a large number of “building blocks” to the front that combine to build overall organizational culture. While it can be oversimplification to try to break down organizational culture into specific pieces, or it can be easy to get lost within the individual pieces and lose focus of the big picture, another exercise that can be more helpful is making a list of the individual stumbling blocks that can prevent a company from having its ideal organizational culture.

While this is not a complete list, here are some of the major attitudes/obstacles that can be detrimental to the ideal work place.

1) Conformity. While you do want everyone to be on the same page, having everyone completely thinking, acting, and doing things the same way prevents new ideas from developing, stops new ideas from challenging and sharpening the old, and kills any chance of a breakthrough innovation that puts you way ahead of the market.

2) Fear. Fear can be a major stumbling block in many different ways. A fear of taking risks can make a company so conservative they fall behind and eventually get hammered by competitors (look at American auto makers who gave up on “green” cars only to have foreign green cars take off like crazy years later).

Fear can be the common fear of being seen as unoriginal, and thus not useful. Fear can be having all your ideas shot down so viciously that you no longer share any ideas. Fear on any level should be challenged and beaten. A strong culture can not thrive with fear.

3) Group think and extreme risk aversion. These are the two extremes on opposite ends of the spectrum. A company with group think may take extreme risks, or they may not, but the problem is there are never any new ideas because everyone is so inline with the CEO’s thoughts that it doesn’t matter if they make sense or not, everyone is going to step in line.

Extreme risk aversion is when a company plays it so safe on major risks that they then play it safe on moderate risks, then minor risks, and eventually become incapable of competing at all.

4) Lack of common sense. This one can kill anywhere, but in the business world this is also true. If a company has been pushing back negative profits for several quarters, acquiring a smaller company or two could helpâ€"if they’re turning a profit. It’s not uncommon to watch a struggling corporation look to acquire other smaller companies to generate buzzâ€"but if many of those companies who have a “positive future” aren’t making any profits, either, then you’ve only dug a deeper hole. Cleaning up in house would have been a far smarter move.

5) Lack of resources. There’s only so much anyone can do with this problem. No matter what the company, they have to be able to start out, and maintain, adequate resources. Without it, there’s no way a company’s organized culture can be successful, because everyone will always be worried.

6) Waiting for inspiration. Inspiration is a great thingâ€"but even the greatest artists and writers in history talked about hard work and attention to details being far more important. Ernest Hemingway was renowned for his work ethic. His first drafts of novels are stunningly badâ€"but he didn’t wait for that magical idea, he worked and re-wrote. The Old Man and the Sea was re-written over 200 times before it was finally published, and is now considered one of the great American classics.

7) Getting off target. In worrying about the small stuff, it’s easy to lose sight with the big picture. While problems have to be broke down into manageable bits, don’t become so obsessed with perfecting the manageable bits that you lose sight of how that time can be more effectively spent on the larger goal. Not everything has to be perfect.

A good practice of organizational culture analysis will help keep a business running smoothly and effectively.