Organizational culture is a system of shared assumptions, values, and beliefs, which governs how people behave within organizations

What makes us want to be part of an outfit?

What makes us feel good about our work? | Dan Ariely

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Why we might need an organizational culture

While there is universal agreement that (1) it exists, and (2) that it plays a crucial role in shaping behavior in organizations, there is little consensus on what organizational culture actually is, never mind how it influences behavior and whether it is something leaders can change.
  1. What Is Organizational Culture? And Why Should We Care? | Michael D. Watkins

One last source of corporate stupidity we came across was company culture. Often, these cultures imprison employees in narrow ways of viewing the world ... As they rose through the ranks, these ambitious young consultants realised that what was most important was not coming up with a well-thought-through solution. It was keeping clients happy with impressive PowerPoint shows. Those who did insist on carefully thinking through their client’s problems often found their ideas unwelcome. If they persisted in using their brains, they were often politely told that the office might not be the place for them.
  1. Stupefied - How organisations enshrine collective stupidity and employees are rewarded for checking their brains at the office door by André Spicer, Aeon Magazine, 27 September 2016

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You don't have to read these unless you wish to, but we might touch upon them in conversation

What is culture ? This is the definition Schein gives :
A pattern of shared basic assumptions learned by a group as it solved its problems of external adaptation and internal integration (…) A product of joint learning.
  1. Read Edgar Schein : Organizational Culture and Leadership and what his book on organizational culture means.
  2. Then to take the thought of organizational culture down to one organization and its culture, read
    • 1100100 and counting
      The secret of Big Blue’s longevity has less to do with machines or software than with strong customer relationships
    • The test of time
      Which of today’s technology giants might still be standing tall a century after their founding?
    • Reflections on a firm that encapsulated the American Century
      Watson’s vision of American-led global prosperity was always easy to criticize, particularly from those he hoped to lead, but compared to the alternatives it had a lot to recommend it ... Watson was sure that what was good for IBM was good for the U.S., but also good for the broader causes of global prosperity and liberal democracy.

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things we'll talk about

  • define organizational culture from the Schein reading
  • plan to discuss your personal experiences with organizational cultures
  • what organizational examples (or companies) can we think of that have been successful because of their organizational culture?
slides for session 13

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something to take away

Buster Voodoo

Rodrigo y Gabriela are a Mexican musical duo who specialize in playing fast, rhythmic acoustic guitars. The duo's members are Rodrigo Sánchez, lead guitar, and Gabriela Quintero, rhythm guitar.

They are originally from Mexico but gained a following after playing their music in the streets and bars of Dublin. Their acoustic style is very interesting because it's influenced by two genres that don't usually go together--flamenco and heavy metal. This duo is also an interesting blend of cultures. They grew up in Mexico City, listening to American rock bands like Metallica, and eventually gained their fame through a European audience.

playing at TED

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