Aligning your team's or organization's culture with strategy James Manktelow MindTools.com Mind Tools - Essential skills for an excellent career! What is the first thing that pops in your mind when you hear the term corporate culture? A great many people refer to the classic phrase coined by the McKinsey organization, that culture is “how we do things around here”. And while that may be true, there are so many elements that go into determining what you do and why, that this definition only scratches the surface. Whether you can define it or not, you know that culture exists within your team or your organization. It’s that ethereal something that hangs in the air and influences how work gets done, critically affects project success or failure, says who fits in and who doesn't, and determines the overall mood of the workplace. Culture often becomes the focus of attention during periods of organizational change - when companies merge and their cultures clash, for example, or when growth and other strategic change mean that the existing culture becomes inappropriate, and hinders rather than supports progress. In more static environments, cultural issues may be responsible for low morale, absenteeism or high staff turnover, with all of the adverse effects those can have on productivity. So, for all its elusiveness, corporate culture can have a huge impact on an organization’s work environment and output. This is why so much research has been done to pinpoint exactly what makes an effective corporate culture, and how to go about changing a culture that isn’t working. Fortunately, while corporate culture can be elusive, approaches have been developed to help us look at it. Such approaches can play a key role in formulating strategy or planning change. The Cultural Web, developed by Gerry Johnson and Kevan Scholes in 1992, provides one such approach for looking at and changing your organization’s culture. Using it, you can expose cultural assumptions and practices, and set to work aligning organizational elements with one another, and with your strategy. Elements of the Cultural Web
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The Cultural Web
The Cultural Web identifies six interrelated elements that help to make up what Johnson and Scholes call the “paradigm” – the pattern or model – of the work environment. By analyzing the factors in each, you can begin to see the bigger picture of your culture: what is working, what isn’t working, and what needs to be changed. The six elements are: 1. Stories – The past events and people talked about inside and outside the company. Who and what the company chooses to immortalize says a great deal about what it values, and perceives as great behavior. 2. Rituals and Routines – The daily behavior and actions of people that signal acceptable behavior. This determines what is expected to happen in given situations, and what is valued by management. 3. Symbols – The visual representations of the company including logos, how plush the offices are, and the formal or informal dress codes. 4. Organizational Structure – This includes both the structure defined by the organization chart, and the unwritten lines of power and influence that indicate whose contributions are most valued. 5. Control Systems – The ways that the organization is controlled. These include financial systems, quality systems, and rewards (including the way they are measured and distributed within the organization.) 6. Power Structures – The pockets of real power in the company. This may involve one or two key senior executives, a whole group of executives, or even a department. The key is that these people have the greatest amount of influence on decisions,...