The Corporate Culture Survival Guide | Edgar H. Schein

Summary of: The Corporate Culture Survival Guide
By: Edgar H. Schein


Dive into the world of organizational culture with Edgar H. Schein’s ‘The Corporate Culture Survival Guide.’ Understand the crucial role culture plays within an organization and discover how cultures form at various scales and levels. This summary will help you grasp the concept of artifacts, espoused values, and shared tacit assumptions that together form the cultural foundation of any organization. Additionally, you’ll explore topics such as modifying organizational culture, identifying dysfunctional assumptions, facilitating dialogue among subcultures, and addressing the challenges specific to mergers and acquisitions.

The Importance of Culture in Organizational Life

Considering culture is essential in making decisions and increasing organizational efficiency. Failing to acknowledge cultural differences can lead to unintended negative outcomes. Understanding the influence of culture allows for anticipation of consequences and informed decision making.

Understanding Culture in Organizations

Culture is shaped by artifacts, espoused values, and shared tacit assumptions in any group of people with common experience. The organization’s history, values, beliefs, and assumptions contribute to its culture, which affects how people interact and achieve their goals. Understanding culture is crucial to succeed in any organization. Espoused values and artifacts may not align, leading to deeper culture driving behavior. Shared tacit assumptions, which come from success, make up the essence of any culture. Culture is broad, deep, and stable, and its elements are invisible, making it challenging to change quickly. Finally, the structure of an organization reflects its culture, and cultural analysis is vital to catalyze change.

Assessing Company Culture

Learn how to assess an organization’s culture using a four-hour exercise developed by an outside facilitator. Defining a specific business problem, identifying artifacts, values, and shared assumptions, and comparing them can expose deeper levels of culture and help attain goals. Repeat the process with other groups to gain a complete understanding of shared assumptions and how they affect the company’s performance. This exercise is useful only when tied to a particular issue and can’t be assessed through a survey. Start unlocking your company’s culture today!

Creating and Adapting Organizational Culture

Creating a successful organizational culture is vital for any new organization, and it is largely influenced by the founder’s behavior. The culture of a young company evolves over time through diversification, complexity, differentiation, and integration. Organizations adopt their founder’s beliefs, and members cling to their assumptions, making it difficult to change the culture unless a major survival crisis arises. It is important to evaluate the culture to identify any dysfunctional assumptions, but they do not necessarily have to be given up. Instead, the organization should be aware of them so they can compensate for their consequences. Rather than starting with changing the culture, it is recommended to begin with recognizing the business issues the organization faces and then assessing whether the culture aids or hinders resolving these issues. By being aware of the evolution of the culture, an organization can provide insight and guide its development.

Managing Organizational Culture

Learn how to manage subcultures, address anxiety during succession, and become a successful culture-change leader.

As companies expand, subcultures arise, and each subunit develops its unique culture to adapt and flourish, sometimes diverging from the core culture. Encouraging dialogue and understanding among subcultures blends the main culture with specific beliefs and improves cohesiveness. However, midlife challenges, like succession, cause anxiety and identity concerns that must be addressed when designing transition procedures. To manage cultural changes effectively, leaders must become outsiders in their own culture and identify its strengths and weaknesses. Founders, in particular, face the challenge of questioning their assumptions despite previous success. Mastering the effective management of organizational culture is difficult but essential for long-term success.

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