Why is organizational culture change difficult

May 25, 2015 Torben Rick


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The culture of an organization is practically its DNA

An organization’s culture is deeply embedded in the system and is therefore extremely difficult to change.

Changing an organization’s culture is one of the most difficult leadership challenges. That’s because an organization’s culture comprises an interlocking set of goals, roles, processes, values, communications practices, attitudes and assumptions.

But what is organizational culture?

 

Why is organizational culture change difficult - What is organizational culture

 

Why is organizational culture change difficult

Here are some reasons why:

  • The culture of an organization is practically its DNA. Culture determines how everything else in the organization unfolds. As Peter Drucker said: “Culture eats strategy for breakfast”
  • The organization and its culture are reciprocal and interdependent: the organization, its design and strategies influence its overall culture and vice versa
  • An organization’s culture reflects its deepest values and beliefs. Trying to change it can call into question everything the organization holds dear, often without that conscious intention
  • The culture of an organization is embedded in the entire organizational system. Each little change effects every layer of that system
  • Organizational culture evolves over time. An organization’s identity is based on its culture, which is deeply linked to its history and development

In sum, the culture of an organization creates its unique, complex face and character. As such, it is as difficult to change in its entirety as the whole personality of a human being or that of a nation.

Changing a culture is a large-scale undertaking, and eventually all of the organizational tools for changing minds will need to be put in play. Let’s not forget that organizational culture is like an iceberg with most of its weight and bulk below the surface.

 

Changing culture is a bit like changing the course of a large ship – it takes time to man oeuvre and whilst the engines are pushing one way the tides and winds are pushing another

 

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Torben Rick
Why is organizational culture change difficult

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