Corporate Culture Management

Corporate Culture Management

Managing Organizational Culture is a highly participative two-day workshop developed by GROVEWELL for the School of Industrial & Labor Relations (SILR) of Cornell University.  For several years it was part of the Core Curriculum for SILR's Leadership Certificate.

Intended participants are supervisors, directors, and managers who are concerned about, or who've been asked to help to change, the culture of their organization or unit.

Organizational culture refers to the values, norms, beliefs, and practices that govern how an institution functions.  At the most basic level, organizational culture defines the assumptions that employees make as they carry out their work.

Report of the Columbia Accident Investigation Board, 2003

To visit GROVEWELL's cornerstone explanation of leadership training, click here.

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Course Overview and Outline

The objective of this course is to provide managers with specific ideas about what they can do, and what they can influence colleagues and subordinates to do, in order to enable the day-to-day practices and procedures of their unit to be more aligned with the cultural values it claims to have.

To pave the way for that outcome, managers need an understanding of "culture," and specifically of "organizational culture."  As well, they need knowledge and techniques for diagnosing the culture of their unit; these are learned during the first training day and part of the second.

"Managing Organizational Culture" is delivered in five sections

Section I:  What Is Culture?  This question is answered through completion of the 3-hour business simulation, Randömia Balloon Factory.  For information, click here.

Section II:  What Is Organizational Culture?  Participants address culture in two of its manifestations: (a) Briefly, culture as applied to work and work relationships within the United States or Europe, and (b) More thoroughly, culture as applied to work and work relationships within an organization.  The objective is to help participants learn to think about organizational culture in a manner similar to how anthropologists and organizational researchers have been doing for decades.

Section III: Diagnosing Organizational Culture.  This is the heart of the course.  It's work is grounded in Edgar H. Schein's Organizational Culture and Leadership, still the most insightful yet jargon-free book on organizational culture.  Guided by Prof. Schein's prescription, participants are led through four sequential steps:

  1. Describe the culture's artifacts.
  2. Identify the culture's espoused values.
  3. Identify the culture's underlying assumptions.
  4. Decide if the assumptions aid or hinder hoped-for improvements in their unit.

Section IV: Managing Organizational Culture.  Assumptions that aid hoped-for improvements are addressed first, the objective being to identify specific action steps that each participant can consciously apply within his or her unit.

Assumptions that hinder hoped-for improvement are dealt with differently.  Participants are helped to recognize the enormous costs in terms of time, energy, money, and good will that are necessary for genuine culture change.  They are encouraged to be realistic, addressing objectives that are within their power to attain.

Section V: Final Activity and Commitments.  This section differs for each participant group.  At its heart is the intention of generating participant commitment to return to the office and actually apply the action steps generated during Section IV.