Shared beliefs, values, and ways of doing things: your organization’s culture 1


By William Seidman

Organizations of all stripes are rightfully concerned about their cultures: the shared beliefs, values, attitudes, and and standards that define and guide them. Organizational culture has everything to do with goals and strategies and ultimate success or failure. Culture sets the underlying norms for functioning. Sometimes, culture needs to change.

Organizations as diverse as the Maryland  prison system or the  British National Health Service  are thinking about their culture.  Last week Martha  Johnson, President Obama’s nominee for administrator of the General Services Administration (the GSA), named “an organizational culture of values and trust” as one of her highest priorities for the agency.

Regardless of the differences – in purpose and practices –  every organization needs to talk about its culture, tweak what isn’t working,  and continuously find ways to support and reinforce it.

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