The culture factor - A Perennial issue in organizations : Rama Krishnamurthy

Strategy and Culture are two words that go hand in hand within organizational continuum. While strategy is defined by the top leadership, culture is basically an unspoken behavior, mindset and social pattern that emerges from within the walls of the organization – and hence its people and definitely its leadership.

In short, leadership drives cultures directly and indirectly, consciously and sub consciously, intended and unintended as well (as a consequence of). Usually leaders start with broader business objectives, goals, revenues but eventually all of this is delivered by headcount. People therefore become the inevitable, important constituent of this. 

Often organizations are a melting pot of cultures. People come from different racial, economic and social backgrounds and bring with them their experiences, contexts and beliefs that form the DNA imprint of culture when carried over several times. 

Leaders can sense different cultures, different watering holes of information within organizations and can also influence this process one way or the other. A walk down the office lobby and several reactions are noticed. Now the blatant mistake that leadership may do is hand it over to an individual like the HR head or a Culture officer to drive or correct what they see. This necessarily need not help. If strategy is driven top-down, so should be culture. If an organization’s aim is to build and grow then culture cannot be outsourced for responsibility.

With organizations that have lasted long or been in the market over years or for that matter when mergers and acquisitions take place, there is a ‘legacy culture’ that is handed over. But that does not stop the fact that any organization needs an ‘aspiration culture’ in place as well. 

As part of the vision, mission and growth path of organizations- culture is an essential factor to be dotted. When selecting leadership from the outside to drive the organization or internally selecting a capable leader also demands that they are aligned with the culture aspect. Often leaders fail to ‘fit in’ into organizations as they do not gel with the culture or are incapable of making ‘cultural changes.’

Culture exists within the organizational design. For example, the performance appraisal system, learning and development, recruitment processes, technology and its usage within, communication patterns internally and with external stakeholders.

All said and done, an ex employee of the organization usually remembers the way he was treated when he was within the confines of the organization than the project he worked on. So the culture DNA has a longer shelf life than any other factor. 

Author : Rama leader who believes in the power of technology and omnichannel marketing with close to 17 years of experience across I/T services, Automotive, Telecom and Consulting lines.She has worked with some leading brands such as TATA, BOSCH, Infosys and Mahindra to name a few.


Note- The author’s views are personal and not related to any organization in particular.

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