Friday, June 05, 2009

Schein's ten step culture deciphering process for enterprise2.0

I've reread Schein's Organizational Culture and Leadership. I read it in 2001 with the organisational change processes of Ghanaian organisations in mind. Now I'm reading it with social media introduction glasses. It's been a joy to read it, such good understanding and so practically applicable.

About a learning culture in organisations Schein writes that we don't know tomorrow's world,but we know it will be different, more complex, more fast-paced and more culturally diverse. Hence the need for organisations and their leaders to become perpetual learners. So there is a need to speed up our learning processes and mechanisms. I think social media can contribute to that. But there is a paradox with culture in organisations, culture being a stabilizer, a way to make things predictable. Strong cultures are stable and hard to change. So does it mean that we need more flexibility to change assumptions? A rapidly learning organisation will change its assumptions too.

How and when to assess cultural dimensions? Schein is very strongly saying that it is not useful to assess culture as part of a desire to change the culture. Rather, there should be a clear goal, an organisational problem to be worked on. If that problem has cultural dimensions, it would be good to assess culture and how the shared assumptions support or get in the way of solving the problem of the organisation.

If that is the case, you can use a ten-step culture assessment process to decipher the assumptions at work within the organisation. The steps role from obtaining leadership commitment, via group interviews to identifying artifacts and espoused values. From there you go to the shared tacit assumptions and identify cultural aids and hindrances in relation to the stated problem.

How does this relate to social media introduction in organisations? I think it is very relevant because social media is not introduced out of the blue, but linked to a certain objective. (see the POST model from the Groundswell). If you take the additional step of doing a culture assessment, it would help to decipher assumptions at play which help or hinder the use of social media. Though you may generalize by stating that you need a 'open' or 'knowledge sharing' culture this is so general that it's not helpful. The culture deciphering process could help you to find cultural or subcultural elements that need to shift. And elements that are already in place that match the use of social media for a certain objective. It will definitely increase the chances for success I strongly believe.

I would be very interested in trying this process out in an organization!

1 comment:

jane said...

Thanks for the post. I appreciate it a lot.