More on Culture


"...culture is a stabiliser, a conservative force, a way of making things meaningful and predictable. Many management consultants and theorists have asserted that "strong" cultures are desirable as the basis for effective and lasting performance. But strong cultures are by definition stable and hard to change. If the world is becoming more turbulent, requiring more flexibility and learning, does this not imply that strong cultures will increasingly become a liability? Does it not mean, then, that the process of culture creation itself is potentially dysfunctional because it stabilises things, whereas flexibility might be more appropriate? Or is it possible to imagine a culture that, by its very nature, is learning-oriented, adaptive, and flexible. Can one stabilise perpetual learning and change? What would a culture that favours perpetual learning and flexibility look like"......what is the direction in which the leaders of today should be pushing cultural evolutions so that there are other surprises of tomorrow? What sort of characteristics or skills should a leader have to perceive the needs of tomorrow and to implement the changes needed in order to survive..."

Edgar Schein, 2004

Not understanding

" deeply our own perceptions, thoughts, and feelings are culturally determined". Ultimately, we cannot achieve the cultural humility that is required to live in a turbulent culturally- diverse world unless we can see cultural assumptions within ourselves. In the end, cultural understanding and cultural learning starts with the self inside..."

Edgar Schein, 2004

In looking at culture, too much focus can be on the current cultural elements that hinder development of the desired change and not enough on the elements that will assist the change process. Furthermore,

"...considerable change can take place in an organisation's operations without the basic cultural paradigm changing at all" ... The constancy of a core set of deep beliefs, values, and assumptions is also one of the keys to longevity of organisations as shown in the Collins and Porras study of successful organisations..."

Edgar Schein, 2004

NB The Collins and Porras study is published under the title "Built to Last", (1994, HarperBusiness)


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