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Throw-Back Tuesday: Edgar Schein

Toddlers go through a phase of asking why—why do we have to sleep? Why do we need to eat vegetables? Why do we have a nose? They are very in tune with learning the rationale of the way things are.

In fact, the process of asking the questions themselves teaches them how to rationalize and understand the world around them. Many years later, as adults, if we are keen enough to not just “go along” with the concepts of human life that are imposed upon us, we come full circle and begin to ask the question “why?”.

As an organizational consultant, I find myself more and more intrigued with the many possible answers of why certain behaviors occur and why some prevail in various organizationally. Here's one for throwback Tuesday. In Organizational Culture and Leadership, Edgar Schein is not shy about bringing us back to the basics when it comes to assessing human behavior in organizational settings—it all comes down to how we relate to each other and our basic needs as human beings.

The more we understand behavior tendencies and how the myriad of combinations of actions and reactions can play out to create a message about an expectation or a policy that for many years may remain unspoken, the better we will be at navigating that culture ourselves as consultants as well as teaching others how to mitigate it in order to successfully accomplish a collective objective.

Fyock and Brannick discuss the importance of assessing organizational culture prior to implementing changes and programs. “Good HR policies and programs are only 'good' when they fit with the organization’s unique culture, business objectives, and personality.” (Fyock, 2002). Therefore, assessments are the only way to ensure that adequate effort is given to implementing an organizational change successfully.

Are you taking the time to measure and mediate your organizational culture? Is the culture in your organization conducive to meeting and exceeding the objectives implied by your mission?

Consulting firms can help you determine if you're on the right track. Simple assessments can paint a clear picture of where your organization is and most importantly, what it needs to do in order to continue maturing towards a successful future.

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