20 Organizational Culture Change Insights from Edgar Schein

A thorough interview with an organizational culture pioneer

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We’re going to accelerate your organizational culture change education with this post. Every leader will benefit from understanding the following critical insights about culture and problem solving, change, engagement, strategy, hiring, and consulting shared by Edgar Schein, Professor Emeritus with MIT Sloan School of Management and the most influential authority in the culture field.

I first interviewed Ed when this site was launched in 2014 and we held a very thorough follow-up interview last year. Ed is continuing to make an impact in the culture field and beyond. He recently formed the Schein Organizational Culture and Leadership Institute. The Institute is dedicated to advancing organizational development through a deeper understanding of organizational and occupational cultures—how they arise, develop, and evolve.

We started this interview with a brief review of culture fundamentals and then probed the connection of culture and important culture-related workplace topics like engagement, hiring for cultural fit and strategy. Culture clearly impacts these areas but the connection is not widely understood and it’s often oversimplified.

Lessons from leadership virtuoso Les Wexner, CEO of L Brands, and all-around humble guy

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I was delighted to recently attend an event at Chief Executive Group honoring our long-time client and my personal friend, L Brands CEO Leslie Wexner, with a lifetime achievement award. There are many company and CEO awards, and Les has been the recipient of many, but this one stood out for me as deeply significant and highly deserving.

The day after this event, I was struck by the comment by Jim Cramer that Les is “Dean of Everything in retailing,” and the notion that he is certainly a leader with much to teach the world.

The longest-serving CEO of a Fortune 500 company, Les is nothing short of an American business legend.

Top 10 CultureUniversity.com Posts in 2014

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It’s been an exciting first year for CultureUniversity.com.  We launched in March, 2014 with the purpose to positively impact society on a global scale through culture awareness, education, and action. I was frustrated with all the superficial and incorrect information about the subject of workplace culture and wanted to bring visibility to what some of the top experts in the world have to say about the subject.

Culture is a powerful force but we’re buried in tips, keys, and levers that barely touch the surface of what it takes to effectively shape or change an organization’s culture with a direct and sustainable impact on performance.

We built a solid base of content in 2014 and all but one article also ran on TLNT.com, one of the largest and fastest growing HR blogs.  

The cure for hardening corporate arteries? Creating a culture of agility

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What company in the world has not been going through sudden shifts wrought from major, disruptive change? Consumer technology companies, health care companies, automakers, and smart phone manufacturers are among industries whose very foundation is more like shifting quicksand.

To survive and grow, and even regain competitive advantage, many companies are grappling with ways to transform their businesses in the face of radical change. They are responding in many predictable and time-tested ways: changing CEOs and leadership teams, shifting strategies, rolling out new product lines, amping up innovation, cutting costs and restructuring. These are all the necessary things to do to react to change, but these actions usually only treat the symptoms of a chronic illness – hardening of corporate arteries – without curing the underlying cause.

Companies may be missing out on the most important strategy of all: creating a culture of agility. This should be every CEO’s first strategic priority because it is the culture that enables companies to flex nimbly in any direction and execute any strategy.

Value-based Leadership

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Every supervisor, manager and leader in every organization makes hundreds of decisions every week. The decisions we make are always motivated by either our personal or organizational needs. But have you ever thought about how you make your decisions?  Do you make decisions based on your instincts, beliefs, values, intuition or inspiration?

Most people make decisions based on their beliefs. The problem with beliefs is that they are based on information from the past that we then project into the future. In a rapidly changing world, the past is not a good predictor of the future. This is why more and more leaders are shifting to values-based decision-making. Values-based decision-making also has another important advantage: When people share and live by the same values decision-making gets easier.