Thursday, May 29, 2014

A Strong Culture

In the last byte, we looked at the function organizational culture plays. In today's byte, we look at the strong culture perspective. 

Strong culture in an organizational context refers to one where there is a consues on the values that drive the company and with an  intensity that is recognizable evel to outsiders. 

It is generally observed that strong culture perspective steates that organizations with "strong" cultures perform better than other organizations. Strong culture is deeply held and widerly shared!
Strong culture are ones that facilitate performance for three reasons:
  1. The culture is characterised by goal alignment
  2. It creates a high level of motivation of values shared by members
  3. It provides control without the oppressive effects of a bureaucracy
However there is a perplexing set of questions that we believe is worth wondering:
  1. It has been observed that strong economic performance can create strong culture, but would it be the reverse?
  2. Would a strong culture always lead you up the path of growth?

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Function of Org Culture

In the last byte, we looked at assumptions and how they influence organization culture. In today's byte, we look at what functions organizational culture performs.
We could think of organizational culture to be playing the following 4 functions:
  1. Culture provides a sense of identity to members and increases their commitment to the organization: when a person internalizes the company's values, they find their work intrinsically rewarding and identifying with the fellow workers!
  2. Culture is a sense-making device for organization members: It provides a way for members of the organization to interpret the meaning of  organizational event.
  3. Culture reinforces the values in the organization
  4. Culture serves as a control mechanism: norms guide behavior, and the culture should reinforce the norms. A task - think of what you need to do when you say the norm is one of teamwork!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Assumptions in Organizational Culture

In the last byte, we looked at values for discussion. In today's byte, we look at assumptions. 

Assumptions refer to the deeply held beliefs that guide behavior and tell members of an organization how to perceive and think about things.

Assumptions are the deepest and most fundamental level of an organization's culture and form the essence of culture. If fact,  this is what gives it the strength! It is alsmost unthinkable to find some one violate these assumptions - this indicates the strength to which the members hold on to these assumptions. Organization members may not be aware of their assumptions, and so may be reluctant or unable to discuss them or change them.

Though unconscious, assumptions often guide a firm's actions and decisions, some companies are quite explicit in their assumptions about employees.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Values in Organization Culture

In the last byte, we looked at a presentation on company culture by TaxiforSure. In today's byte, we begin our discussion on Values. 

We have already seen that values are the next layer of understanding culture after the visible representation of culture through artifacts. Values reflect the underlying belief of what should be or should not be - and often consistently articulated both in conversations and in a company's mission statement or annual reports.

Values could actually reside in two forms:
  1. espoused values: refers to what members of an organization say they value
  2. enacted values: refers to values reflected in the way individuals actually behave.
It is interesting to note that a firm's values and how it promotes and publicizes these also affect how employees would feel about their job and themselves - there has to be a synchronization between what is spoken and how it is acted on!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Sample - presentation on organizational culture

Since we have been discussing about organizational culture for the last few days - I found a presentation on the same by Taxi4Sure.

Please refer to the embedded presentation here in (they talk about their values and systems after the slide 25).

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Role of stories in organizational culture

In the last byte, we looked at the role played by ceremonies and rites in creating an organizational culture. In today's byte, we discuss about stories.

Stories regarding an organization play a huge role in reinforcing role in communicating the organizational values. As stories are told and retold, they give meaning and identity to organizations and are found to very helpful in orienting new employees. 

Some of the themes of stories that are common in organization are:
  1. Stories about the boss
  2. Stories about getting fiered
  3. Stories about hwo the company deals with employees who have relocated
  4. Stories about whether lower-level employees can rise to the top
  5. Stories about how the company deals with crisis situation
  6. Stories about how status considerations work when rules are broken.
The information from these stories serve to guide the behavior in an organization.
Stories are extremely powerful medium of communication as the listener is left to draw his/her own conclusions.

One should always remember that for stories to be effective as a cultural tool, the stories should be credible. Stories which are not backed by reality often lead to cynicism and mistrust.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Role of Rites and Ceremonies in organizational culture

In the last byte, we began our discussion on artifacts. In today's byte, we look at ceremonies and rituals. 

Ceremonies and rites refers to relatively elaborate set of activities that are enacted time and again on important occasions. These
occasions provide opportunities to reward and recognize employees whose behavior is congruent with the values of the company. The ceremonies and rites send a message that individuals both expose and exhibit corporate values should be admired. These also help members bond together.

Research has identifies 6 types of rites:
  1. Rites of passage - show that an individual's status has changed.
  2. Rites of enhancement - reinforces the achievement of individuals.
  3. Rites of renewal - emphasizes the change in organization and commitment to learning and growth.
  4. Rites of integration - unites the diverse groups in an organization and bring back the focus on the larger organization.
  5. Rites of conflict reduction - focus on dealing with conflict or disagreement that emerges naturally from an organization.
  6. Rites of degradation - are used by organizations to visible punish persons who wouldn't have adhered to the values and norms of behavior.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Artifacts - Organizational Culture

In the last byte, we looked at how organizational culture has different layers and visually understood what each layer contains. In today's byte, we begin discussing about Artifacts.

Artifacts refer to the symbols of culture in physical and social work environement. Clearly these are the most visible and accessible level of culture. We shall discuss three of these in today.

Personal Enactment - refers to the behavior that reflects the organization's values. For example: the way a manager at the top of he organizational hierarchy      behaves with his subordinates could reflect what the organization's culture would be like.

Rituals - refers to every day practices that are not repeated over and over. Often these are unwritten, but they send a clear message about "the way we do things around here". For Ex: Imagine a case where Calling employees in an organization with their first name, and another where people always put refer each other with Mr. Mrs. etc and their surnames!

Symbols - refer to the communication about an organizational culture through unspoken messages. These are representative of organizational identity and membership to employees. These also help build solidarity in the organizations.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Organizational Culture 2

In the last byte, we listed the various means of communicating the organizational culture. We discuss the various levels of organizational culture today.

The following diagram capture the various levels of organizational culture:

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Organizational Culture

In the last byte, we looked at the emphasis of various organizational structures. In today's byte, we begin our discussion on organizational culture.

Defining organizational culture is a challenging task. Following is one definition of organizational culture that would be useful for our discussion here:
"Organizational Culture refers to the patter of basic assumptions that are considered valid and that are taught to the new members as thee way to perceive think and feel in the organization"
Note here that the definition has a corporate tinge.
If one were to think what were the basic means of communicating an organization, we could identify the following:
  • Artifacts
  •     Personal Enactment
  •     Stories
  •     Rituals
  •     Symbols
  • Values
  • Assumptions
Before we jump into the understanding of these means of communicating organizational culture we should understand the different levels of organizational culture. This is the subject of our next byte.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Structural configurations

In the last byte, we looked at some of the questions that one would need to ask when designing an organization. In today's byte, we try summarizing the various designs and some of the characteristics associated with it.

The following table summarizes 5 structural configurations:

We have earlier discussed about the various organizational structures possible and the implications of these designs etc in our discussion on organizational theory and development concepts.

Your could read more about these form the following links:

So we shall limit our discussion on organizational structure and move to understanding organizational culture.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Dimensions of Organizational Design 2

In the last byte, we looked at the definitions of the various dimensions of organizational design. In today's byte, we continue the discussion a bit further.

Most often we can think of organization design, and wonder where to start. Prof Henry Mintzberg has suggested begining with the following questions to help get clarity:

  1. How many tasks should a given position in the organization contain, and how specialized should each task be?
  2. How standardized should the work content of each postion be?
  3. What skills, abilities, knowledge, and training should be required for each position?
  4. What should be the basis of grouping of positions within the organizations into units, departments, divisions, and so on?
  5. How large should each unit be, and what should the spn of control be?
  6. How much standardization should be required in the output of each position?
  7. What mechanisms should be established to help individuals in different positions and units to adjust to th needs of other individuals?
  8. How centralized or decentralized should decision-making power be in he chain of authority? Should most of the decisions be made down in the chain or authority or at the top?

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Dimensions of Organizational Design

In the last byte, we looked at horizontal linkage as a means of integration. In today's byte, we define 6 dimensions of organizational design:

  1. Formalization - the degree to which the organization has official rules, regulations and procedures
  2. Centralization - the degree to which decisions are made at the top of the organization
  3. Specialization - the degree to which jobs are narrowly defined and depend on unique expertise
  4. Complexity - the degree to which mny different types of activities occur in the organization
  5. Hierarchy of authority - the degree to vertical differentiation across levels of management.