Culture Design

Is something wrong with my organization?


There is an old Dakota saying that I heard many years ago: “When you discover you’re riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount.”

But as the speaker at the time mentioned, organizations usually don’t do that. They prefer to change the rider, improve the riders training skills, appoint a committee to try to revive it, or just pretend nothing is happening.

As some of my colleagues from the Socio-technical field say:  all organizations are perfectly designed to deliver the results they are currently producing. (B. Mohr, R. Ordowich & R. Smith).  In other words, the results your organization is having are the only ones that can be produced with its current design.

When things are not working out as we expected, we need to take a look not only to “how we do things here”, as Edgar Schein would say, but also to “why we do things in this way”. Schein’s metaphor for culture is a lily pond. The how is in the surface, the why is underneath.

design culture

And this is the reason why we prefer to design culture change initiatives. We analyze the culture of the organization, as well as the current organization design and through design thinking, implement initiatives aimed to solve a concrete business problem, engaging the different stakeholders. These initiatives have a more permanent impact on culture, helping the organization achieve the expected results, pleasing their customers and engaging employees.


So, the first question we need to ask ourselves is: are we riding a dead horse?


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