Organizational Culture Change LO18233
Sun, 31 May 1998 23:47:04 EDT

Replying to LO18210 --

Fran commented,

> I am most curious on the principles of the approaches taken,and am trying
> to hear what the organization would define as critical elements to their
> success.

>From my own research, I've found several key principles to real,
fundamental change within organizations. Many are similar to what we
generally talk of concerning LO's. A couple that seem especially
significant, however, and not always present within LO's: One is that the
purpose of work is not simply to make money. Profit becomes a means to a
greater end, and it is this goal that people keep in front of them. One
such goal might be to further the development of the work community, or
the broader community. Such goals have some significant implications for
how work is conducted. Profits aren't forgotten by any means, but are
seen as a natural outcome of right work.

Another difference lies with assumptions concerning human nature. Viewing
humans as conscious, active, and growth-oriented beings also has some big
implications for how work is conducted, particularly in terms of power,
control, and profit-sharing.

> What is curious to me, is that in many of the companies we listed here, I
> have actually heard members of those organizations state that their
> organizations have not transformed their culture. I wonder what this could
> indicate?

Though this may be indicative of several things, I believe at least part
is the fact that too often, change is no change at all. There is a
general reluctance of researchers and authors (and managers) to actually
take the time to find out how people experience and make meaning of their
workplace. What usually gets examined and written and talked about are
the appearances, the intentions, and the experience of designated leaders.

Appearances of change are all around us; real change, change that, as
Aktouf describes, is a lived rather than appropriated experience, is much
rarer. I think when members of a "transformed" culture say that the
culture has not changed, it's because they haven't experienced real
change, only the appearance of change. Where change has become a lived
experience, rather than being simply appropriated, the meaning of work
itself is changed by people. This isn't done within a management edict.

> Is improvement never enough for us when we are 'in it'?
> Are consultants and researchers and authors more willing, or more able, or
> more compelled to see change?

Your assumption within that last statement is interesting: that change is
present, and that members of an org just can't see it. I don't think that
consultants, researchers and authors are more willing or able to see
change; if anything, perhaps, some are simply more easily taken in by the
illusion of change. Maybe some of them see change because they are
willing to look at the appearance, rather than the quality or way of
being. Culture change doesn't happen just because some of the work
processes are changed, new rhetoric is heard, or new artifacts put in
place. I think it happens when the fundamental assumptions are changed,
concerning how work is conducted and concerning the nature of both work
and the worker.


Terri A Deems

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