Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Analyzing Organizational Culture - Part 4 - The Marvin Gaye Principle: "What's Goin' On?"

In yesterday's post, I talked about the need for teams, individuals and groups to share information, work across departmental boundaries and engage others to improve efficiency and to speed decision-making.

Today I address the need to address the Marvin Gaye question: "what's goin' on?"  I always loved that song and his performance, and while the subject matter of the tune is not organizational culture, the question is truly valid for an understanding of your organizational culture.

Recall that "Culture is the way we do things around here." 

We know teams and individuals need to work together ... but ... what are they working toward!?
Without a clear view to organizational goals, precious human effort is often lost in the pursuit of non-essential and non-value added activity.  In short, people are wasting time. 

Common responses when the question is raised "Does everyone in your organization know what's going on?"
  1. We have a Mission Statement.
  2. We have a Vision Statement.
  3. Our department/team/group knows what we need to do every day.
  4. And the most insidious comment of all "this information is shared on a need to know basis ..."

Yet there is often an invisible, yet profound barrier between the executive development of vision and mission and the front-line application of those words. 

Why does mission and vision not flow to all team members?

  1. Most likely, the mission and vision were developed at a time when the company was formed and while the majority know it, they don't know how it applies in their setting.
  2. Mission and Vision are often developed by leadership, without involvement of other groups, teams and departments.
  3. There may be a misperception that front-line team members are not interested in mission and vision ... but they are!
  4. Leaders/managers have not taken the time to articulate, with clarity, how teams fit in to support mission.

Team members want to answer the question "What's goin' on?".  They want to know how they fit into the day-to-day success of the organization. 

Does your culture promote a sense of clarity?  Do people know what's happening?  Do they know why?  As leaders, make it your goal to be as clear as possible.  Don't waste another minute of precious employee energy in a zone of uncertainty.

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