Google Analystics

Friday, 7 November 2014

Can Culture be the Root Cause of Noncompliance?

Actually, that was a trick question to get your attention. Right off the bat, let me say that the answer is "No." Although I am certain that the absence of an effective organizational culture of quality can be a cause of noncompliance, I do not believe that organizational culture can be a root cause of noncompliance because it still begs the question, "Why?" If you can still reasonably ask another 'why?' then you have not yet come to root cause.

All successful organizations have a vision, mission and goals that are pursued according to certain principles which are subscribed to as values within the organization. However, not every organization with a declared vision, mission, goals and set of values is successful. Compare Toyota, on the one hand, and the investment banker Goldman Sachs who was a major player in the 2007 subprime mortgage crisis.

The difference, very often, is between the formal, espoused value principles and the informal principles which form the basis of what actually happens in the organization. What actually happens, 'the way we do things', is what constitutes the 'culture' of the organization. For example, the Goldman Sachs business web site states: INTEGRITY AND HONESTY ARE AT THE HEART OF OUR BUSINESS. Jane or Joe Public can be excused for reading this with a degree of cynicism given the actual cultural history of that organization.

Is your culture rogue?
It is important, then, to establish where there may be significant gaps between identified, desired organizational behaviours that would support the espoused principles on the one hand and actual behaviours suggesting a different, rogue set of beliefs, organizational culture or 'way of doing things' on the other.

Peter Drucker is credited with saying, "Culture eats strategy for breakfast." You will not be able to successfully implement an organizational strategy aligned with the organization's vision and mission if the prevailing organizational culture, "the way we do things", does not have the same alignment. On the other hand, if the culture is properly aligned, the new strategy is half-way to success before you even start.

How does your organization 'do things'? How big is the gap between your organization's formal and informal principles? Which behaviours is your organization rewarding?

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