Last month I had the privilege of attending the 2nd Annual Ultimate Culture Conference in San Francisco, hosted by Human Synergistics. One of many reasons for me to take the 12-hour flight from Switzerland was to be in the company of thought leaders in workplace culture, such as Dr. Edgar Schein. Among the many insights he shared, one in particular struck a chord with me: the different methods of surveying for culture data. Dr. Schein described two-dimensional (2D), 3D and 4D views one can take when trying to understand a company’s culture. My experience is similar, and it prompted me to draw out the following analogy.
To accelerate the culture learning curve and truly impact the world, it’s critical to build on the experience of pioneers in the field of organizational culture. Our Culture Pioneer Panel, one of the unique highlights of the Ultimate Culture Conference, featured insights from three of these trailblazers: Edgar Schein, Larry Senn, and Robert Cooke.
Given that organization development consultants are fundamentally agents of change, it’s no surprise that many of the questions they ask us about our culture and climate surveys focus on levers for change. Most recently, an attendee at the 1st Annual Ultimate Culture Conference submitted a note card asking, in reference to the Organizational Effectiveness Inventory® (OEI) and my presentation on How Culture Really Works, “If you were to focus on one category of causal factors (structures, systems, etc.), which would you choose?”
Culture is in these days, so I get a lot of inquiries about creating a culture, usually around “engagement” or “service” or “innovation.” My typical response is “Why do you want to do that?” or, alternatively, “Can you give me an example of what you have in mind?” Why don’t I just say, “Sure, and here is how you do it.”? 1 There are several reasons.