If you ever had a doubt about the impact of culture, just look at the Veteran’s Administration, General Motors, Target, or the many other current examples of behavior gone wrong. Culture is the set of beliefs that drive behavior–beliefs about the organization’s purpose, acceptable practices, and individual responsibilities among others. If you want to know your own culture, don’t bother looking at the posters in the lobby, or asking senior management–instead, look at how people behave. False information, the GM meeting head nods, and a mass exodus precisely at five o’clock are examples.
Culture can be shaped and changed, not only to prevent problems, but also to drive exceptional performance. The first step is to get a good understanding of what the current culture is deep in the organization.