Peter Drucker is credited with the title I've used for this post. Without attention to culture, driven from the top of the organisation, any new strategy direction, restructure or major initiative is at risk of failure as a dysfunctional culture quietly reasserts itself.
I've drawn this week's comments from an excellent article published by Sport New Zealand to whom I give the credit.
Culture starts in the boardroom. The setting and oversight of the organisation's ethical framework is core board work. In a world of increasing accountability beyond the bottom line it cannot be ignored or delegated.
Organisational culture is the way people behave, what they believe and the values they hold - generally without any conscious thought. It is expressed through the way people act in the workplace, the beliefs and values they hold and how these interact with workplace behaviour.
Successful organisations display a strong connection between personal values held by employees and directors and the espoused organisational values. The value set of an adult is fixed and cannot be changed by slogan or edict. The issue then is one of fit between the desired organisational values and the individual.
Culture exists in two groups: visible and invisible. Visible elements can be written, and include things such as strategy, goals, statements of values and policies. The invisible or 'below the waterline' elements are likely more important drivers of culture. These include beliefs, tradition, stories, unwritten rules and accepted norms. These contribute to the 'way we do things round here'.
Components of culture include stories, symbols, rituals and routines. Water cooler stories are central to culture. What is rewarded, what is deemed to be success, what is seen but ignored, what is espoused but not lived by or perceived extravagance all slowly build culture. Statements of value that are not lived, or exist without the necessary control systems, will not permeate the organisation. The reason for having each stated value needs to be made clear. At a certain point, mismatch between personal and corporate values is an accurate predictor of organisational failure and likely collapse.
So back to the beginning - culture starts in the boardroom. Over the last year, how much attention has your board paid to the organisation's culture?