Evaluating organizational culture LO13698

Richard Seel (richard@richard-seel.demon.co.uk)
Thu, 22 May 1997 08:41:38 +0100

Replying to LO13673 --

In message , "Birren, David E" <BirreD@mail01.dnr.state.wi.us> writes

>I've recently developed an outline of a model for evaluating
>organizational culture, and I'd be happy to get some constructive input on
>it. The basic idea is that organizational culture begins with social
>values and both creates and is supported by the various operational and
>communication systems that exist in the organization.

I, too, am interested in organisational culture. It is well know that
there is often a gap between espoused values and values in action - I once
heard a senior executive refer to "inverting the pyramid" and "the top
fifty managers" in the same address.

>From my reading in anthropology, I think that there are a number of areas
which could be examined to get a clearer picture of the way an
organizational culture actually is. Here are just a few:

* Who is a member of organisation?
Permanent staff only?
Agency staff?
Family members of staff?
Retired staff?

Style of meetings
* How often?
* Setting?
* Shape of table?
* Who sits where?
* Who attends?
* Who speaks?

Organisation of space
* Allocation of office space
- Size an indicator of social structure?
- Location an indicator of social structure?
- Decor an indicator of social structure?
* Open plan vs. individual offices
* State of building
- Clean?
- In need of decoration?
- etc.

Dress code
* Formal or informal?
* How rigidly enforced?
- e.g. "No brown shoes" in UK law firms
* What differentiators
- How many different types of dress?

* Modes of address
- First name to all?
- Mr upward, first name downward?
- Sir?
- Women addressed differently from men?
- Different to clients?
* Swear words?
* Jargon
- Indicator of boundary strength
- Subgroups using jargon?
* Sexual innuendo
- Pinups?
- Sexual joking?
- Harassment?

There are many others, both at heading and subheading level but I don't
want to overburden the list. It's something I'm still working on, but I
believe that this offers a potentially fruitful way of diagnosing an
organisational culture.

> If someone has
>already described culture in this way, I'd like to hear about it,
>particularly the connection between relationship and processes, and the
>interdependence of processes (systems) and values. In any case, critical
>thinking and helpful suggestions are most welcome.

This is somewhat different approach from David's. I think that the two
could be complementary.

Best wishes,



Richard Seel Management Consultancy & Development Richard Seel <richard@richard-seel.demon.co.uk>

Learning-org -- An Internet Dialog on Learning Organizations For info: <rkarash@karash.com> -or- <http://world.std.com/~lo/>