Managing Culture

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May 2, 2013

Management science is the science of making decisions and good strategic choices in organizations. It involves analytic, technical interventions and behavioral interventions. The analytic and technical interventions tend to look like redesigns or realignment of structures, systems, and business processes. Behavioral interventions are the domain of organization development working with how people and organizations function and how to make them function better. The field is based largely on psychology, including developmental psychology, sociology, anthropology, systems and organizational theory and behavior, leadership, and management. It deals with the full spectrum of “people problems” ranging from conflict to culture, from reward systems to performance problems, from task design to six sigma improvements.

Organizational development should be a total system perspective focusing on:

  • Employee engagement and risk;
  • Organizational culture;
  • Leadership world views;
  • Structure/systems/business processes; and<
  • Organizational innovation.

It should be the integrated whole that embodies the desired future of the organization with its uncompromised guiding principles (values), and bold steps (strategies) for getting there. It can even be thought of as the entirety of the leadership strategy necessary to support the business strategy of the organization.

It is no surprise that organizational development focuses on culture and processes. The great grandfather of organizational thinking, Edgar Schein, famously said: The only thing of real importance that leaders do is manage culture. Focusing on the human and social side of organizational performance remains the single, most important area for business leaders for all time.