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Culture Shift

In the video “Hacking Your Organization“, Lloyd Taylor states that low org productivity is often caused by a mismatch between explicit and implicit culture. When the espoused culture doesn’t align with the actual day-to-day operating culture of an org, people (because they’re not dumb asses) get disillusioned and turned off by the hypocrisy. Hence, it’s only natural that many people will “hang up the phone” and “disconnect & distance” themselves from their work and do what little they can to get by. Of course, the BM hypocrites responsible for keeping the implicit and explicit cultures unsynchronized judge these DICs as lazy under-performers. That’s because there’s no way that they, themselves, can be the catalyst of a disillusioned workforce. In their minds, they’re infallible and whatever they say about the culture is auto-magically true.

Mr. Taylor’s model, and he stresses that it’s just a model, partitions corpo cultures into four archetypes: communal, mercenary, networked, and fragmented. The criteria he uses to diagnose a culture are sociability and solidarity:

In Lloyd’s view, virtually all startups begin with vibrant communal cultures. As a company grows, because of the physical limitations of the human brain, a cultural shift has to occur at some point:

If, during growth, the company’s leaders don’t steer the org toward the culture that they want, or they hard-headedly maintain that their culture is still communal when a shift has occurred, then the implicit-explicit cultural mismatch that triggers low productivity will manifest. Bummer for all involved.

Mr. Taylor stresses that no culture is fully good or bad and that success can be sustained in all four culture types as long as the espoused culture is aligned with the actual culture – especially during cultural shifts. This is possible because each individual will know where they stand and what they need to do to become successful themselves. They can also decide whether they are comfortable operating in the org culture, and when to move on.

The hour long video is highly informative and Mr. Taylor uses all kinds of examples to bolster his theoretical views: Enron, Anderson Consulting, Lehman Brothers, Apple, Zappos.com, Hewlitt Packard, Oracle, etc.  Hop on over to InfoQ and check it out if you’re interested in the fascinating topic of group culture.

  1. Bookfish
    February 18, 2011 at 7:46 am

    THIS GUY IS AWESOME! Downloaded video and PP for offline review. Remember though, Communal groups share. Mercenaries Kill.

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