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?”
My fascination with culture began more than 40 years ago when another young industrial engineer named Jim Delaney and I started a process improvement consulting firm not long after graduating from University of California Los Angeles. I quickly discovered that it was easier to decide on change than to get people to change. I observed that companies, like people, had personalities and, while some were healthy, most were like dysfunctional families. They had trust issues, turf issues and resistance to change. The difference between working with Sam Walton on the supply chain at Walmart versus with Woolworth was like night and day. It was clear one would succeed and the other would fail because of the mindset and habits of the firms.