Notes about Culture

(From "The fish rots from the head")

"Oh! We don't do things like that around here."

"How we do things around here" is a powerful bond for those already in the organisation.

Long-established organisational cultures == psychic prisons.

Culture is a tough beast with a long history

Culture is a historically trasmitted pattern of meaning embodied in symbols.

Culture is a system of inherited conceptions expressed in symbolic forms by means of which people communicate, perpetuate, and develop their knowledge about and attitudes towards life.

Webs of signification

Man is an animal suspended in web of signification he himself has spun.

Those webs are culture. The analysis of culture, therefore is not an experimental science in search of law, but an interpretive science in search of meaning.

Organisations have histories, folktales, dramas, rituals, routines.

Understand this and aligned the energies generated by people to achieve its purpose.

The board is the main spinner of the ‘webs of signification’.

The board

  • writes the official history of the company
  • tells its sagas to the outside world
  • creates its symbols and ceremonies (wittingly or otherwise)
  • gives power to those it deems important
  • creates the class structure of the enterprise
  • defines the enteprise's enemies
  • defines the ethics of the way things are done

The board’s words and actions are watched carefully by the staff for changes in cultural priorities.

Changes in cultural priorities signal in changes in power, reward and punishment systems