Steven talked about the use of metaphor and culture as the operating system of the organisation.
The second was that for culture to be useful, we need to focus on what we’re doing, rather than worrying about other organisations and best practices. So any type of benchmarking is bound to be at least partly misaligned. We want to ask the questions which are important to us, not those someone else has come up with.
Then there’s the problem that the more important something is, in HR at least, often the harder it is to measure. This means that putting quantitative metrics around culture is bound to subtract meaning from its measurement. Culture needs at least an element of qualitative, subjective, discursive interpretation as well as hard measurement.
It’s easier to gain agreement and engagement when you’ve involved people in making a decision than if you try to sell it to them later on. In addition, with something like culture, it is often the process of developing it which is more important than the description which is developed from the process.
However, as the first diamond is really determined by the strategy I’m not sure you need the first three steps. (Though of course it would be useful to co-develop the strategy in a similar co-developed way too.)
And also I’m not convinced a Minimum Viable Product approach will work – culture change needs to be holistic and just changing one element or aspect of culture, or the culture in one aspect of the business, is unlikely to have much impact.
Boeing’s Culture of Concealment
So as an example, what should Boeing do about changing its culture of concealment? Should it seek to change its people’s behaviours and patterns of thinking and responding – yes it should (it doesn’t need to change its formal values – these already include safety and being a good global citizen etc).
But the easiest way to do this is to focus on the organisation capabilities the company needs to be successful, which I’d suggest include designing and managing for safety and organisational sustainability; enabling everyone to have a voice and be taken seriously; and perhaps the ability to handle paradox (eg the need to build planes efficiently and safely at the same time).
Safety is an example of what I refer to as value for money – it’s not going to make the firm competitively successful, but if it’s compromised, could jeopardise the future of the business.
There’s a human capital aspect to this – people focused on and engaged in the safety agenda and skilled in designing for safety. There’s a big organisation capital aspect too, ensuring the way that people are organised enables them to do the right thing. And there’s a big social capital aspect – engaging people in open conversations so that they arrive at a informed view about their planes which include the perspectives of the workforce and their stakeholders.
This then will require various activities to create these capabilities – such as the Safety Committee which Boeing has now set up.
And if you want to know more on my own ideas, please read The Social Organization.