Monday, June 14, 2010

XP 2010 Session Report -- Culture and Organisation by Diana Larsen

(note--I'm not sure if I got the title of this track right)
Diana Larsen reported that over 75% of organizational change efforts fail--and by fail she means it hurts so much that it brings down the whole company or causes significant loss in profitability. She talks about culture and its power--it is the glue that holds us together, that distinguishes us from others, and gives us a context for working together. She points out that culture can change, and that if we want to change it, we need to leverage its propensity to change naturally--we need to work with its strengths.
Change happens when a culture is dissatisfied, can envision a better future, can see the first steps to change, and all these together are greater than the resistance. She also spoke about the life cycle of culture (pictured right)--from clan, to hierarchy, to market, to ad-hocracy. Clans are internally focused, they support flexibility and discretion; hierarchies are still internally focused and are concerned about efficiency and structure; markets are externally focused and value results/winning; ad-hocracies are externally focused, interested in tents, not palaces--innovation, flexibility and discretion. Cultures tend to cycle through these categories over and over. While all models are wrong, this model can be useful in finding out how to help the culture change--it's appropriate to use charisma to sell an idea in a clan; it's important to get executive support in a hierarchy, and so forth.

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