Organizational Excellence

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Archive for April 2011

Culture-Evolution, Revolution? 7-S Thoughts

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We’ve had some good ‘culture’ conversations on the Employee Engagement Network before. Recently, a poster offered this: Is There Collaboration in Your Culture?

The topic just naturally gravitated toward the old dilemma…where does culture come from? How do you change it?

I’ve done a little on Change Management here: see Change is OK, Just Don’t Mess With My Stuff…  but am taking a slightly different view here. To frame my initial response I called on the old standard McKinsey 7-S model, where “shared values” (translated – culture) is at the center of the model. Among the satellite S components: style, strategy, structure, systems.

An individual-based performance mgmt system, departmental silo structure, and misaligned micro goals all encourage all drive “me” style which impacts culture. All “S” components are interrelated. Therefore to consciously impact one all must be addressed. On the flip side, if you mess with one you inadvertently mess with the others. By design or default, the “S” components tend to change together. Better to plan! Strategy and systems drive style / culture:

  1. Strategy: set goals that require collaboration to complete.
  2. Systems: use performance mgmt to manage those collaborative projects. Interdependent success (or failure)
  3. Style: items 1 and 2 demand communication, collaboration, teamwork

EEN contributor Steven wrote…too many companies are rewarding individual efforts and ignoring successful teamwork. Emphasis–cross functional teamwork. I feel it’s even worse going half the distance, falling in love with the “t” word but only within departments / functions. So instead of a cowboy culture you have gang affiliation, still turf-centered.

Ben’s comment in the EEN discussion will hopefully trigger discussion…The culprit is top management. They create the culture and their people follow their leadership whether it is good, bad, or ugly.

I support that view, under two specific conditions. First, where a founding leader instills his own values upon the organization, and they take root and are nurtured by subsequent leadership. Second, when leadership re-engineers an organization that addresses all seven “S” components together. A rarity?

Other than those two instances, in my opinion culture is evolutionary—the ultimate collaboration.


Written by Craig

April 22, 2011 at 12:21 pm