Culture. We blithely use the term for just about anything--a vibrant culture, a dominant culture, a corporate culture. But do we really know what we're saying, what culture really means? Or do we most often assume that the term is just a convenient way to group those with a common purpose or goal and a method for achieving it? Isn't a corporate culture, for example, just "the way we do things around here"?
No, it's not. In The Corporate Culture Survival Guide, Edgar Schein reveals how that's merely the tip of the iceberg, an iceberg that managers ignore at the peril of their company's future. Underneath lies the much-harder-to-grasp "essence" of the company, the "learned, shared, tacit assumptions on which people base their daily behavior." These assumptions are learned over time and in different internal and external environments, becoming, as Schein puts it, the "residue of success." As these assumptions influence all aspects of how a company functions, discovering their nature and cause is vital to the success of any new organization-wide venture or strategy. In the second half of the book, Schein illustrates how, using this knowledge, a company's culture can be deliberately created or changed. Supported by numerous case-study examples, his advice is pertinent to startups, mature companies, and blended organizations.
If you're the type of manager that needs a quick-fix solution, with simple catch phrases and an easy Five Step Program to Success, this book is not for you. Nor are the benefits to be gained from acquiring the depth of knowledge and insight needed to understand, work with, and transform your corporate culture. Using intelligent, lucid prose, Schein provides this kind of insight and more; he tells cautionary as well as inspiring tales of what this insight can mean for your company, and offers useful suggestions for putting knowledge into practice. --S. Ketchum [via]