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William E.

Schneider
Bill Schneider is president of the Corporate Development Group, Inc., (CDG) in Denver, Colorado. CDG has over
215 global affiliates. He is the developer of Culturetek, which measures the alignment of strategy with culture and
leadership, and is the author of The Reengineering Alternative: A Plan for Making Your Current Culture Work
(Irwin Professional Publishing, 1994).

Abstract Why do some management ideas take root and remain XYZ Company is organized in a highly structured
viable and others wither and die? This article offers four manner. People within the company operate with strict
fundamental reasons: all organizations are basically living, social policies and procedures. Planning, engineering design,
organisms; culture is more powerful than anything else in the and strict implementation are critical to success.
organization; system-focused interventions work, component- Leadership and management are quite authoritative,
centered interventions usually do not; interventions clearly tied to
directive, and systematic. The work is strongly
business strategy work, interventions not clearly tied to business
strategy do not. The author describes research that points to four core
functional in nature. Decision-making is very
cultures: control, based on a military system, with power as the methodical, objective, data-based, and careful. Issues of
primary motive; collaboration, emerging from the family and/or certainty, predictability, systematism, and safety pervade
athletic team system, in which the underlying motive is affiliation; most of what happens every day. It is imperative that this
competence, derived from the university system, with the organization remains in control of its processes.
fundamental motive of achievement; and cultivation, growing from In the organizational culture framework of our
religious system(s) and motivated by growth or self-actualization. consulting firm, this company is a control core culture
organization. (Organizational culture will be discussed
Keywords Organizational change, Organizational culture, in more detail later in this article.)
Leadership In 1987, an internal Organization Development
department was established at XYZ to help increase
organizational effectiveness. The number of staff

T he following story is true.
XYZ Company is a multi-billion-dollar manufacturer of
members in this department grew to ten professionals
plus a director-level manager. During the next eight
years, this internal group and numerous external
consultants introduced a series of new, management
products that are very powerful, potentially harmful, and ideas that they believed were critically important for this
very expensive. These products must work the first time company to adopt. These professionals insisted that the
customers utilize them. There is no margin for error.

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make all the interventions work. Every organization has its own ^ Human potential development. its own history of success.existing culture was ineffective. This outcome is most evident in the case fundamental reasons: of ``surgical'' interventions. but what is usually happening is that the rather than the exception. but it is not the solution every time. organization's way of doing things. financial 1992. The older and more successful the organization. business strategy. They have machine-like By the end of 1996. team behavior. ``old way'' of leading and managing. lean manufacturing. vision. 1.'' S t r a t e g y & L e a d e r s h i p 2 8 . embedded in the TQM program instituted in 1990. . successful the organization. and its identity. and anachronistic. but by far the majority of information technology. When it is not done. including the marketplace. this kind of story is often the rule short term. much more powerful than business processes. deeper in the hierarchy. Organizations exist to were still involved with the company. and none of the external consultants community and not vice versa. They insisted that (3) System-focused interventions work. corporate governance. interventions not clearly tied to business strategy do ^ Participative leadership and management. outmoded. character. and. not. nature. and identity. character. the intervention has a chance of could to make a significant contribution. nature. social layering. All organizations are basically living. . but reached consensus on one thing: they will never allow they are less important than the fundamental nature of something like this to occur again. highly capable professionals. marketing them did not work. outdated. the old ways begin to others wither and die? This article offers four creep back in. manage would include the following ideas: (4) Interventions clearly tied to business strategy work. . ``better'' management ideas. ^ Self-directed teams. The older and more ^ Management by consensus. organisms ^ Empowerment. initiatives from this list that were accepted and There is a hierarchy in the nature of all living systems. the stronger its culture. ^ Core competencies. XYZ had spent fulfill their missions and to contribute to the larger world $30 million on the above interventions. ^ Quality circles. supply chains. they are not machines. Company succeeding. which reinforces and strengthens the ^ Synergy and win-win. component- the proper and more effective way for this company to centered interventions usually do not. Organizations are communities of people with a mission. (2) Culture is more powerful than anything else in the harmful to people. de- (1) All organizations are basically living. social organism is more manufacturing-requirements planning systems ± were fundamental. The only around them. and its identity. They called it the organization. the stronger its culture. 1 2 0 0 0 2 5 . and important reality must be where any intervention begins. ``Every organization has its own culture. ^ Total quality management (TQM). Every organization has its own culture. They did everything they If this is done. nature. and so on. therefore. such as reengineering. What went wrong? It may seem like an intervention is working in the Unfortunately. investor Senior and middle management in this company have reports. plans. history of success. its nature. Over management ideas take root and remain viable and the intermediate and long terms. all the internal professionals had characteristics. These phenomena are important. and downsizing. social ^ Flexible organization. the probability of executives and personnel did everything they could to failure is high. ^ Benchmarking and best practices. Addressing this critically and external consultants were good-willed. but these must serve the needs of the been asked to leave. bright. All of those internal an organization as an organism. Why? Why do some living system is yielding to short-term cost savings. There are times when surgery organisms. its ^ High performance work teams. implemented ± statistical process control and The basic character of a living. The company did its best to adopt all of the systems. which reinforces and strengthens the organization's way of doing things. ^ Quality of work life. is necessary. and identity.

the evidence supports the idea that that this core culture be aligned with the organization's system-attacking. reengineering and downsizing) do not is. purposes with one another. emerging from the family and/or (organizations). The research of Collins and Conversely. The pattern of dynamic relationships at the (4) Cultivation. but if its culture is not aligned with and are based on the non-linear paradigm of nature. no matter how good. 1 2 0 0 0 2 6 . evolve outward over time. forming the nuclear center for how that as the human body operates when it has been damaged organization operates in order to succeed. living systems. The more machine-like the idea. reality turns out to be a pattern of (3) Competence. with power as Research into the nature of living systems reveals that all the primary motive. central to any organization's last. living systems. which explains why motivated by growth or self-actualization. They operate for a purpose. the organization's ``immune system'' effectiveness.'' everywhere. the deciding factor is strategy. including social organisms (2) Collaboration. systems. social organism.'' or genetic communities. The supportive of that strategy. Culture. identity. People. in every organization. pattern of dynamic relationships. economic performance[2]. ecological systems. organizations. It has everything to do with implementation another. nature. Yet. organizational culture is so powerful. the strategy will either stall or more the idea operates from the paradigm of fail. quite a few fact. focus is lost and energy is begins developing ways to neutralize its ``attackers. significantly greater inside out. the greater the ± consciously or unconsciously ± from their own likelihood that the idea will be adopted and integrated personal history. ``how we do things around here in order to and that purpose is always greater than the self-interest succeed. No management pattern. and processes work at cross- the living system reconstitutes ± heals ± itself. non-linear and how success is actually achieved. that its impact supersedes all other factors when it recent management thinkers would lead one to believe comes to organizational. ``reality. This alignment interventions (i. it is strikingly evident All living systems ± sub-atomic cells. in S t r a t e g y & L e a d e r s h i p 2 8 . start the process of reconstituting itself. the research of Collins and Porras. Each establishes its own unique. parenthetically. ``When it comes to adding value to an organization.'' and wasted as people. differentiates visionary companies from comparison interplanetary systems ± grow and develop from the companies and.'' the greater the likelihood While no organization has one pure culture that it will not work. It is critical or injured. manage. Every time. in which the underlying motive characteristics[1]. socialization experiences. Indeed. So powerful. of the organism itself. Without it. derived from the university system. Our research indicates there are four core 2. or operate. The core culture is central to the functioning of as possible. have certain inalienable and consistent athletic team system. biological that organizational culture lies at the center of what systems. Organizational culture is more powerful than cultures: anything else (1) Control. machine-paradigm-based strategy and its core leadership practices. In that surgery is the only treatment that will work.'' is an organization's way of behaving. the fundamental motive of achievement. An organization can have the most work or do not work has to do with whether or not they superb strategy.e. and societies exist in relation to one code[4]. When it comes to the true nature of is affiliation. in our research. societal systems. the more a management idea builds on Porras confirms this conclusion. will work in practice if it does One of the central reasons that management ideas not fit the culture. perception of what it takes to succeed in their particular marketplace. ``organization as machine. as soon culture. every successful organization has a core the more the living system will take the hit and. They start from their core and grow and economic performance over the long term[3]. and into the fabric of that organism. based on a military system. with dynamic relationships. just the organization. but it is always from the core to the periphery. idea. growing from religious system(s) and organization level is culture. not the personal theories of a consultant or manager about `the right way' to lead. the organization's nature and strengths and honors its The leaders of an organization create the core culture integrity as a living. throughout.

values. convincing persuader superior. The organization as a This culture is centered on conceptual goal attainment. success of the organization per se. exists to ensure the fullest growth of the customer. It fundamentally exists values and ideals of the organization and the extent to to ensure unity. The framework for information and knowledge is built and dependability. This is the culture of uniqueness per se. culture. grow.The strong connections between strategy. distinctive conceptual goals Constant innovation to stay ahead Challenger of others Typically. and higher-order purposes. It fundamentally goals. system goals of the is to preserve. culture. Exhibit 1 Ð Strategy. The basic issue in this epistomology essentially around the conceptual. and culture gain knowledge when diverse. grow. carriage trade markets Cultivation Growth of customer Catalyst Enrichment Fuller realization of potential Cultivator Evaluational knowing ± the fundamental issue is Enrichment of customer Harvester the connection between the values and ideals of Raise the human spirit Commitment builder the organization and the extent to which those Further realization of ideals. and ensure the well-being and organization and the extent to which these goals are met. 1 2 0 0 0 2 7 . This culture is reality. values. especially Create market niche Assertive. Control The basic issue here is the realization of conceptual This culture is all about certainty. This culture is intervention or practice adapts to the epistemology. It fundamentally organization. The organization moves ahead through the focused on value-centered goal attainment. Accordingly. the customer. the more probable that intervention Competence will take hold and have a significant impact on the This culture is all about distinction. It fundamentally organization and the extent to which those goals are met. close connection with the customer. the raising up of attainment. This culture is all about the further realization of ideals. the design and framework for information and knowledge in the control Cultivation culture is built essentially around the goals of the This culture is all about enrichment. particularly superior. accuracy. exists to ensure certainty. distinctive. conceptual goals. Steward values and ideals are being operationalized higher-order purposes Appeal to higher-level vision S t r a t e g y & L e a d e r s h i p 2 8 . and which those values and ideals are being operationalized. diverse collective experiences of people both inside and Examples of actual companies that typify each of the outside the organization. and ensure the High distribution intensity Cautious well-being and success of the organization per se Life and death Definitive Predictability Commanding Firm Collaboration Synergistic customer relationship Team builder Synergy Close partnership with customer First among equals Experiential knowing ± the fundamental issue is High customization Coach the connection between people's experiences and Total solution for one customer Participative reality Incremental. intense dedication to the customer. and leadership connections Culture Strategy Leadership Epistemology Control Market-share dominance Authoritative Certainty Commodity Directive Organizational systematism ± the fundamental Commodity-like Conservative issue is to preserve. The fundamental The key emphasis is the connection between what is issue here is the connection between experience and espoused and what is put into operation. The core epistemologies are defined as follows. system comes first. exists to ensure the accomplishment of unparalleled. predictability. central way of knowing and understanding. This culture is centered on organizational goal fulfillment of the customer's potential. unmatched products or services. Collaboration The basic issue here is the connection between the This culture is all about synergy. step-by-step. safety. People in a collaboration four core cultures are shown in Exhibit 2. collective leadership are shown in Exhibit 1. relationship with Integrator customer Trust builder Competence Superiority Standard setter Distinction Excellence Conceptual visionary Conceptional systematism ± the fundamental issue Extremely unique Taskmaster is the realization of conceptual goals. appropriate to the core culture. or centered on unique customer goal attainment. of one-of-a-kind products or services. The more an experience has been fully utilized.

management. Automated distribution and Social responsibility. empowerment means to actively get input about There is no such thing as ``one size fits all'' in implementation matters and to actively encourage organizational change. organization. Performance-based compensation Interdependence (Covey). Unfortunately. Vertical integration. If it does not. which is premised upon an component-centered interventions usually do not epistemology that is the exact opposite of the cultivation The more component-centered the management idea. But the practice of empowerment programs will not 3. the core culture. Seeking employee Entrepreneurial management. the less likely it will work. Synergy. Krug) group technique. 1 2 0 0 0 2 8 . Seeking customer loyalty. component-focused interventions are usually valuable By far the majority of management ideas heralded at for any one organization and core culture to consider. System-focused interventions work. Brand extensions. however. Fast workplace cycle time. The ``collaborative'' Robotics and numerical control. For example. The principles embedded in empowerment. leadership. The Quaker Functional stovepipe thinking. Gore Marriott Hotels Intel Shorebank Corporation This framework for understanding and measuring organization off center. Skunkworks. Leadership as an ``art'' output'' management (Grove). Quality of work life. If the management idea fits the nature of It is important to note the distinction between the organizational culture. Group Manufacturing-requirements planning movement. Sensitivity manufacturing. Mass customization. the component-centered idea when it comes to implementing things more efficiently has a strong characteristic of ``you need what I can do'' and effectively. Exhibit 3. The majority of them can be component-centered idea that will work (in practice) shown not to fit the other core cultures as shown in most naturally in a cultivation culture. the more component. the chances of it having a beneficial impact Exhibit 3 Ð Management ideas by core culture Collaboration Control Cultivation Competence Diversity. Group-oriented leadership. High performance work competition. Entrepreneurial (Peters and Waterman). Formal processes to devise strategies. Industrial Knowledge-capital measures. Statistical process control (TQM). Supply chain management. applied to each of the four core cultures regarding many Component-centered ideas that do not fit the core of the management ideas listed in Exhibit 3[5]. Open offices. Teams. In the intermediate and long organizational culture is a type of unified field theory for terms. This same line of reasoning can be behind it. they also waste gives us a paradigm with which we can interpret why a time. ``Spirit at work'' (Conger). Corporate Flexible organizations. In a control centered the idea the more the buyer should beware! culture. empowerment is a the four core cultures. CEO as deal maker. what the cultivation culture is all about. Process reengineering.L. S t r a t e g y & L e a d e r s h i p 2 8 . Wrigly Jr Reflexite Corporation Lucent Technologies Celestial Seasonings Kellogg Goldman-Sachs Cray Research Herman Miller Procter & Gamble Dana Corporation ADP Esprit de Corp General Dynamics Greater Southeast Community Hospital Citicorp 3M Exxon CRS Sirrine Four Seasons Hotels W. commitment. Benchmarking. Empowerment is. they just fade away or run out of energy and this critically important organizational phenomenon. Open book ``Virtual'' organization. Self-directed teams. Best practices. ``Enlightened'' leadership (Oakley and method of management. one time or another during the past 40 years can be The practices of that component-centered intervention shown to be a natural fit with one and sometimes two of are a different matter. Open book downsizing. Time-based leadership (Covey). Empowerment. management. management. Brainstorming. In almost every instance. consensus. ``High Quality circles. Decision trees and simulation. ``Matrix'' facilitation. Exhibit 2 Ð Examples of the four organizational cultures Control Collaboration Competence Cultivation Wm. work in a control culture. Human potential Managerial grid. in many ways. Lean (DePree). Indeed. ``Principle-centered'' Imitating the ``excellent'' companies Participative management. sales systems. Charismatic management. are relevant to the control culture. Continuous improvement. Core competencies. teams. training. and money and leave employees confused given management idea works or does not work in an and often less respectful of management. Activity-based costing. The principles of many that that idea will be successful. It commitment from others. Nominal Growth share matrix. Management by systems. Rightsizing. culture of the organization in question only pull the Any intervention must fit the system. when employees to come up with as many ideas as they can this approach is proffered. the probability is very high practices and principles. ecologies. Zero-based budgeting. energy. Win-win. culture.

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