Sometimes I run across a story or bit of information that I think is worth sharing. Todays recommended reading is from the Environmental, Health and Safety website. It discusses the problem with institutions that blame culture as both the cause and the cure for organizational issues. Consultants, City officials and the Modesto Bee fly the “Culture is the problem” flag. This article is a must read!
Culture Is the Cop-Out Culprit
Successful turnarounds don’t focus on fixing the blame but rather on fixing the problem(s).
Terry L. Mathis | Apr 28, 2016
When a tragedy is caused by complex factors, experts tend to blame the culture. The Challenger disaster and the Texas City refinery explosion resulted in commissions finding fault with and making recommendations for improving the cultures. Even organizations assessing their own internal problems often turn to culture improvement initiatives to address their issues. Such findings are indicative of both a cop-out of responsibility and a basic misunderstanding of the nature of organizational cultures.
A recent (April 2016) Harvard Business Journal article points out this tendency to view culture as both the cause and the cure for organizational problems, from corporations to government bureaus to banks to police departments. The problem with this thinking at the surface level is that attempts to fix the culture seldom, if ever, result in a true turnaround of performance. Successful turnarounds don’t focus on fixing the blame but rather on fixing the problem(s). Blaming culture is just that: blaming. And such blaming is often a blanketing of blame to shelter the true culprits. Cultures don’t pull down organizations. Organizations pull down cultures.