Change Implementation Techniques for Laying a Foundation for New Ways

Technique 1.23 How to Describe Your Culture

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Introduction

Listed below are the different components that contribute to a description of the culture (now and in the future)

. Observe behavioural regularities when people interact (the language they use, the customs and traditions that evolve, and the rituals they employ in a wide variety of situations, how staff handle conflict, etc)

. Group norms (the implicit standards and values that evolve in working groups, such as the particular norm of "a fair day's work for a fair day's pay"; different parts of the organisation's attitude to each other, etc)

. Espoused values (the articulated, publicly‐announced principles and values that the group claims to be trying to achieve, such as product quality or price leadership or market leadership, etc

. Formal philosophy (the broad policies and ideological principles that guide the group's action towards stockholders, employees, customers and other stakeholders, etc)

. Rules of the game (the implicit, unwritten rules of getting along in the organisation, "the ropes" that a newcomer must learn in order to become an accepted member of "the way we do things around here")

. Climate (the feeling that is conveyed in a group by the physical layout and the way in which members of the organisation interact with each other, with customers, or other outsiders)

. Embedded skills (the special competencies displayed by group members in accomplishing certain tasks, the ability to make things happen, which gets passed on from generation to generation without necessarily being articulated in writing)

. Habits of thinking, mental models and linguistic paradigms (the shared frames that guide perceptions, thoughts and language used by members of the group and are taught to new members in the early socialisation process, such as "do not speak until spoken to", etc)

. Shared meanings (the emergent understanding created by group members as they interact with each other)

. "Root metaphors" or integrating symbols (the ways in which groups evolve to characterise themselves, which may or may not be appreciated consciously but become embodied in the buildings, office layout and other material artifacts of the group. This level in culture reflects the emotional and aesthetic signal of the members in contrast to the evaluative signal)

. Formal rituals and celebrations (the way in which a group celebrates key events that reflect important values or important passages by members, such as promotion, reward and recognition, completion of important projects and milestones)

Comment on each of the components as it is now and how it should look in the future (desired)

Components

Now

Future (desired)

i) Observe behavioural regularities when people interact



ii) Group norms



iii) Espoused values



iv) Formal philosophy



v) Rules of the game



vi) Climate



vii) Embedded skills



viii) Habits of thinking, mental models & linguistic paradigms



ix) Shared meanings



x) "Root metaphors" or integrating symbols



xi) Formal rituals and celebrations



(source: Edgar Schein, 2004)


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