Is Your Company Culture Too Strong?
• The strong organizational culture could lead to a harmonious environment.
• A strong culture sets expectations, increasing the likelihood of reducing uncertainty so that members of a team will all be on the same page.
• However, in fast – changing industries, or in a tumultuous economy, a weaker company culture can lead to the broader diversity of view points and can generate more new ideas and lead to better creativity.
My Thoughts about Your Thoughts
• Successful collaboration requires interpretation of other people’s beliefs and intentions.
• “Theory of mind.” “It means I’m trying to think about your mind.” “I’m trying to put myself into your shoes, to think about what you would do. To do that, I use my own experience as a guide.”
• The more we understand about the culture, the easier it will be to communicate effectively, because our own thoughts and preferences will guide us well regarding those of the people around us.
• Conversely, a lack of understanding will make it difficult to internalize others’ viewpoints, which can have a range of consequences—from something as trivial as missing a joke to failing to recognize when you are in a potentially harmful situation, such as a robbery.
Apply to Corporations
• Culture works the same way in corporations. A strong corporate culture sets the rules of engagement.
• A manager can choose to communicate with her team in a variety of ways: tersely, or diplomatically, or even passive-aggressively.
• Someone who can accurately gauge her intent will be in a good position to succeed on her team.
• Moreover, an entire team or company that communicates fluidly— everyone anticipating how everyone else will respond—is ideally situated to handle a crisis.
A Culture that Helps and Hinders
• Game theory modeled how people might decide which groups to join.
• It would be easier for individuals to coordinate on a task, when they share a common culture, they would also share a common vision for how the task should proceed.
• When coordination is rewarded, and when a group’s culture is strong, its members become increasingly like-minded.
• It will attract more like-minded people to join the group, while individuals with a different vision may to go elsewhere.
A Culture that Helps and Hinders
• In other words, over time, a strong company culture increases “homophily”.
• But is homophily desirable? (It depends)
• When there is a stable economic environment—and the status quo is working good.
• Under this situation, having a strong shared culture can be beneficial, as it enables members of a group to better work together.
• The IBM or General Electric in the early 20th century could be good examples.
Diversity Breeds Resilience
• Homophily may not benefit all types of interactions. Excessive conformism hampers the ability of an organization to adapt or innovate.
• The IBM of the early 90s, for instance, was not prepared for change. Having people work together well and communicate effectively—it creates an entrenched culture. But this harmony environment is not good for encouraging new ideas.
• Alternatively, a weaker company culture, one that is unconstrained, a little chaotic, may lead to less conformism. An organization composed of diverse viewpoints, and even dissent, may not run as smoothly or efficiently as a homogenized company.
• But the lack of an established way of doing things, increases the likelihood of innovation.
• It is hard to define what is a good organizational culture.
• It depends on different situations. For a fast-changing Silicon Valley Company, a strong culture may lead to a decrease in creativity. While for a company whose focus is on retail business, such as Zara and Cosco, a strong organizational culture would be effective.