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31 Aug 2015

What is Organizational Culture?

What is organizational culture? In most basic terms, it is the personality of a formal group.

What is organizational culture? What influences it?

What is organizational culture? It is the personality of a formal group. It colors how the group works.

It differs from our own personalities. It is largely created by the group and outside factors. It has no innate qualities. Formal groups are human creations. They exist on paper, in our heads and in our hearts.

Personalities of formal groups also differ from those of informal groups such as demographic ones. That is because formal groups have organization. This affects culture.

What Influences Organizational Culture?

When we ask, “What is organizational culture?” we need to be aware of one thought: there is no universal agreement on what makes it up. That is a key reason why I use the definition of organizational culture that I do. It covers many ingredients.

What is organizational culture? Looking at the four key factors that influence it helps to answer that.

When we ask, “What is organizational culture?” we need to consider four key factors that influence it.

We can though identify factors that influence how these ingredients will look in a culture. They also affect the organizational culture change we want. There are four main ones:

  1. Situation
  2. Flow
  3. Members
  4. Leaders

Situational factors such as economy, market, competitors, community, finances, logistics, equipment, plans plus others affect the culture of a formal group. All these form the situation in which the group works.

Flow represents how the situation, members and leaders are changing. What are the trends? The direction? Where is the group in its life cycle? These affect culture.

The members of the group influence culture. Their personalities do. Collectively they do too in such forms as peer pressure and the grapevine.

Formal groups have leaders. They play a key role in influencing the culture of the group. They decide policy, procedures, strategies, vision and many others. These influence culture.

What Is Organizational Culture? What Makes It Up?

Asking, “What is organizational culture?” often leads us to ask, “What makes it up?” The thoughts, emotions and behaviors of all in the group make it up. These are what the above four factors influence.

These in turn affect decisions, policies, procedures, processes, values, assumptions, habits, problem solving and others. They include the conscious and unconscious aspects of all these things.

The patterns of thinking, emoting and behaving that extend across all becomes the culture. Patterns allow us to predict group actions. They form the basis of creating organizational culture and of changing culture in the workplace.

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