(The article by Vinaya Bansal is originally published in People Matters on 24th May 2016)
Instead of trying to create the illusionary common organizational culture, a company needs to understand the colour of glasses their internal stakeholders or employees are wearing. In fact they also need to understand their own perception of world and how it differs from others in the company.
Every organization in India is trying to create organizational culture, talks about it and wants to ingrain in into everything – from hiring to retiring.
Corporates put this in beautiful words and hang it on the walls everywhere. Then of course, it is followed by none other than the CEOs and top management talking about it in their speeches to employees and stakeholders.
The entire corporate machinery gets geared towards building the ‘stated’ culture – common for every employees working for the organization. But what is the final result? A culture which is common for every employee gets created? But what is the success rate? And what is the advantage that the company gets post creating that culture?
From the perspective of human psychology and as a practitioner of human analytics – I see it as a noble intent but a complete waste of time, money and resources on part of the great brains behind the exercise especially in terms of junk output it creates.
And why do I think that way? Let me tell you why. Consider there are 100 people gathered in a room for a party. The organizer has decided to illuminate the party with a common colour of pristine ‘white’. But all the guests come wearing eye-wear of thick glasses of different colours – red, blue and even black and also some are just plain glasses.
What do you think will happen to the common white light that the organizer has put in the first place? He wants everyone to see and feel the purity of the white light – but can they? Can he describe the white light to the people who are wearing coloured glasses on their eyes? Can he write the property of white light to the people who are wearing the coloured glasses on their eyes? Can he write the property of white light on the wall and expect everyone to understand and experience the same?
I am sure you would have seen the analogy here –just replacing the white light with common culture makes the fallacy of our act clear. We all perceive the world in our own way based on the genetic makeup and our conditioning over the years. The external environment is not same for each of us. It means different things to different people. Same stimuli generate different response and different intensity of response in all of us. So how can a common organization culture that can be summed up in four or five lines ever be created until and unless companies are employing robots of the same make and configuration instead of humans!
Instead of trying to create the illusionary common organizational culture, a company needs to understand the colour of glasses their internal stakeholders or employees are wearing. In fact they also need to understand their own perception of world and how it differs from others in the company. Based on this deep knowledge, a framework of enabling atmosphere can be designed which consists of various elements such as – policies, organizational structure, work environment, infrastructure and method of communication etc. The dynamic and flexible system that will evolve will respect everyone’s personality and will allow organization to boost productivity by celebrating differences in place of commonality.
Sounds scary and loads of work?
Good news is that in current times of advanced technology, this can be easily done using scientific people analytics systems such as Predictive Index (PI). Leveraging human analytics, companies can objectively decode the behavioural makeup of everyone in the organization. Once this is done, it can be studied and analysed at various levels – from individual to organizational level. They can see the impact of each element within the organization on each individual and see it from the eyes of stakeholders – get an understanding of how people with different personalities will experience the same policy, activity or intervention. And yes, scores of progressive companies have already done it and have grown in leaps & bound because of it! With technology, deep understanding of human behaviour and shear computing power that is now available on finger tips of organizations, the whole exercise no more requires the hard work that was mandated earlier.
Once organizations embrace this new approach, they can reap in immense actual tangible benefits which never came in by chasing the mythical character of organizational culture.
(Predictive Index, India)