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Developing and Maintaining the Organisational Culture that You Want

January 13 2020 - by Dr. Lois Parkes, Leadership Development and Institutional Strengthening Specialist

Possibly the most challenging element to change within any organisation is its culture. For the purposes of this blog, organizational culture refers to “the underlying beliefs, assumptions, values and ways of interacting that contribute to the unique social and psychological environment of an organization.”[i] Organisational culture is in fact a critical component of the Capacity pillar of the Caribbean Charter for Public Sector Transformation.[ii]

When reference is made to poor organizational culture, typical examples cited are indecisiveness or autocratic approaches to decision-making, operating in silos, lack of collaboration, poor communication practices, low levels of employee engagement, avoidance of accountability/blame culture and risk aversion. However, when asked what strategies have been taken to change the organisation’s culture, too often, the response is none. Perhaps the prospect of trying to change organizational culture appears too daunting an undertaking. However, nothing changes if nothing changes. It is impossible to achieve change without a strategy and implementation/execution of that strategy.

So where should one start to tackle such a seemingly overwhelming goal?

  • Firstly, start with an honest assessment of the organisation’s culture. It is important that such an assessment be done inclusively to get the views from all levels of the organisation. It is also critical to manage conflicting views that can emerge from such a process.
  • Secondly, decide what is the new organizational culture that needs to be created and embedded. This needs to be aligned to the organisation’s strategic direction, and communicated simply, consistently and effectively.
  • Thirdly, focus on a few keys areas and actions that, if taken, would move the organizational culture in the right direction. Keep the action items simple, but do not underestimate the power of simple steps in the right direction. For example, if the aim is more inclusive decision-making, set up a decision-making structure that promotes inclusivity for defined organizational decisions.
  • Finally, maintain the change effort. Building the right organizational culture is a continuous process of effort. It will never be accomplished. It always requires attention, effort, evaluation and renewal. Similar to a garden, weeding and maintenance will always be a must.

For technical assistance in organizational culture change, contact us at Share with us your challenges, questions and successes in the area of culture change, by responding in the comments section.


[i] › what-is-organizational-culture-definition


[ii] - CPSC Implementation Guide