S+B: You can’t benchmark culture

Many managers and consultants approach organizations as if it is a closed and mechanical system. They expect to be able to freeze the organization, do a major change and then unfreeze to get the expected results. The acquisition of an innovative company in order to eject their mindset and culture into the organization is an example of that approach. Getting an interior designer to change the office into a Google playground is a similar idea. It doesn’t work that way.

Organizations are more like open and organic systems. Rather than using surgery to replace unwanted parts, you can better teach and develop the organization to perform. And in order to be successful you need to understand how the organization performs, where the value is so to speak, and what you expect in attitude and behavior.  Aligning behavior and culture with strategy and goals require actions on all levels of the organization. Culture change by itself is not a program that I would recommend. But a strategy change that leads to a program where culture change is the result, that can work.

You can’t benchmark culture

Not long ago, when PetroChem (the disguised name of a major established petrochemical company) acquired an energy upstart (call it Polymer Plus), the PetroChem leaders found themselves at a loss.