Strategic Drift LO24301

From: Richard Seel (
Date: 04/05/00

Replying to LO24292 --

Kiall Marsh (LO24292) writes
>Does anyone have ideas on how to measure
>the difference between corporate culture and operational " paradigms " ?

I'm not sure of two things here: firstly, the need to distinguish between
culture and paradigm (I'll explain in a minute) and secondly the value (or
even the possibility) of 'measuring' culture.

I currently find it useful to see culture as the outworking of a
particular organisational paradigm. Furthermore I see that paradigm as
being an *emergent* result of all the conversations and interactions
between the people in the organisation.

If culture, or the paradigm at the heart of it, is truly emergent then it
will require a complex systems perspective to appreciate it. I've expanded
this view in my article on Culture and Complexity at

Furthermore, the complex systems perspective warns us against trying any
mechanical approaches to any form of organisational change - especially
when dealing with culture. If culture is an emergent phenomenon then what
is required is to try to facilitate a new emergence. This is a subtle and
often frustrating process, closer to the act of creation than to

I currently believe that there are a number of factors affecting emergence
in human systems (a synopsis can be found at under 'abstracts').
Without explanation (for space reasons) these are:

* Connectivity
* Information flow
* Diversity
* Lack of inhibitors
* Good boundaries
* Explicit desires
* Watchful patience

To change or create a culture it will be helpful to pay particular
attention to these.

One of the keys to changing or aligning a culture is diagnosing the
current culture. Some people advocate measurement as the way to do this.
I prefer more affective and creative approaches, enabling people to
inquire together into the nature of their current paradigm. I believe that
the act of inquiring into the current culture can itself be a powerful
influence in helping a culture to change. I don't believe that surveys and
questionnaires have the same effect.

There is so much more to say but I don't want to take up too much
bandwidth on-list. Good luck with your inquiries into your own culture. I
hope they bear fruit.

Best wishes,

Richard Seel

New Paradigm Consulting
Organisation Consultancy & Development

Seabrink, Beach Road, Bacton Green, Norfolk NR12 0EP, UK.
+44 (0)1692 650 706


Richard Seel <>

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