December 19, 2007

Corporate Culture

Being a consultant, I get a chance to be part of a company and work closely with its employees without actually being an employee. This gives me a chance to learn new and different ways people work together and accomplish tasks. I have only being out of college for a few years, and I don't have immense experience or hundreds of different projects to refer to back to, but I have noticed that a business culture plays an enormous role in the way in which that business's employees typically handle their work. (I think I just heard you say "duh")

I think culture can be a great thing (in business and especially in general), but it is incredibly frustrating when it blindly replaces how people would normally handle things. I really hate to preach, but here are a few negative tendencies derived from corporate culture that I have witnessed that I would suggest to avoid.

Appeal to Authority
Corporate Culture: Make sure all involved parties are involved and aware of any business decisions/solutions that will affect them.
Culture Blunder: Make sure all who were involved in similar business decisions/solutions are involved in making current business decisions/solutions.
  • Appeal to Authority can often make sense given that previous problems and the current problem are very similar. But when they are not...or the proper investigation is not done prior to talking with "the authority", it is just lazy and wasteful.

Meetings as Work
Corporate Culture: Schedule meeting to discuss and review important, high/impact issues and decisions.
Corporate Blunder: Schedule meetings for all issues and decisions.

Corporate Culture: Develop a standard process for common, critical tasks.
Corporate Blunder: The "wheels fall off" when a given process is not followed.
  • There are always everything. You should understand any particular "process" that is done and quickly adapt it to handle exceptions as they arise, and not cause major chaos when it is not quite the same. In fact, any process should be continually reviewed and modified to ensure that it is correct.

And I could probably go on with more examples (and maybe I will some day), but you get the point. All of these things can make sense and be great solutions for problems, but blunders like these will arise when people do not address each business issue as its own unique problem and blindly apply previous solutions without discretion. Please don't let this happen to you. Then certain people won't need to listen to me complain about it all the time.

What do you think? I would love your feedback or some of your top "blunders".


Steve Duitsman said...

Too bad I don't have a blog, cause then you could link to me about complaint lunches... :)

Steve Duitsman said...

I think another blunder is the CYA syndrome, where you ignore any problems that aren't related to your area of a project. Even though the issue may be important enough to be detrimental to the entire project; there isn't a sense of coming together as a team to fix something because "well, at least it isn't my ass on the line."

A good team/department culture would see a problem like that as something that may need to be solved as a team, since it's the team's reputation on the line, if the project has troubles. Not just hang that person (or part of the project) out to dry.

Unknown said...

> I think another blunder is the CYA syndrome, where you ignore any problems that aren't related to your area of a project.

CYA also can lead to complications, such as MYOB, where you ignore warnings about problems in your area of the project if they come from someone outside your area of the project.

When I've seen it, it comes from information-hoarding managers who think that the secrets they hold mean they are the only ones capable of judging the state of the project.