Culture Analyses

… are more than just navel gazing.

My fundamental thoughts concerning culture within organisations can be summarised in seven points:

  1. Whether consciously or unconsciously, every organisation will have necessarily developed its own culture – its own norms and rules, unwritten laws and its sense of “how we do things around here”. Had it not have done so, it would never get anything done at all. This is the only way, for example, that “new arrivals” can be integrated into an organisation or maybe even be rejected, much like a human body’s immune system rejects a virus or such like, if they prove to not be the right fit
  2. It is not uncommon to hear people speak of ‘bad’ or ‘unhealthy’ cultures, but such talk is neither helpful nor useful.  The question of which elements of a culture should be evaluated positively or negatively can only take place against the background of a clearly defined target image.

  3. Before defining a the target image, the organisation, i.e. its leadership should first be aware of which cultural aspects currently determine the essence underlying people’s thinking and actions. A cultural analysis must always include a review of the history (biography) of the organisation as this is the only way that the status quo can be understood. So, it’s not just about the “what is”, but above all about the “why something is the way it is”!
  4. In-depth interviews with both key players (who will need to be identified) and formative personalities from the past and present are an effective means of identifying or rather elaborating on the central aspects of an organisational culture.
  5. In every culture, it is possible to identify both elements that support a desirable target image and characteristics that are undesirable for the future. Within the framework of “positive affirmation”, cultural development initiatives should essentially be geared towards strengthening the desired elements. The motto here: Go with the flow!
  6. The defining element of any organisational culture is the behaviour and communication style of its leaders. Going forward, it is especially important in this regard that the target image manifest itselves tangibly for the people involved.
  7. The target image is fundamentally formed in three stages. the starting point for this is my central and fundamental conviction:
    Everything starts with people!

    So, first of all, a conception of man needs to be consciously developed.This can then go on to form the basis for a set of values that will be binding for all members of that organisation – based on which, a suitable leadership model can be developed. This leadership model then needs to be brought to the attention of the managers within the organisation in an appropriate way and consistently insisted upon over the course of time.

    While the cultural analysis, and associated development of the target image is possible in a manageable period of just a few months, noticeable and sustainable cultural changes are a process that takes place over several years. So, it’s a marathon, not a sprint! But it is a rewarding, if at times tough, path. Ultimately, culture is the identity-forming factor of every organisation par excellence and a central competitive factor – a “USP” that has to be consciously moulded.

    If you’ve read this far and still feel an inclination to work with me, I very much look forward to hearing from you.