Recognise This! – Understanding how cultures evolve and are reinforced is critical to effecting culture change

On my return from India, I finished a terrific book on organisational culture – The Culture Cycle: How to Shape the Unseen Force that Transforms Performance – by James Heskett, professor emeritus at Harvard University Business School. The challenge for me today will be keeping my review short. I highly recommend The Culture Cycle to anyone wondering how to go about the process of culture change in their organisation.

Much in agreement with our own book, Winning with a Culture of Recognition, Heskett defines culture and its importance this way:

“Cultures are not abstract notions. They enable strategies and ways of executing them. They are direct contributors to the bottom lines of both for-profit and not-for-profit organisations. But, perhaps most important, they influence how we work…and with what amount f joy, personal development, and satisfaction. …

Cultures directly influence economic performance through the people they attract and the ability of those people to serve customers and each other well, and, in a for-profit organisation, profitably. There is nothing ‘soft’ about them. …

In an organisation in which a large proportion of employees are customer-facing, as much as half of the difference in operating profit performance between offices can be attributed to culture.

Indeed, culture is not soft. And a strong, effective culture that leads to greater organisational profitability relies on these key points I’m highlighting and paraphrasing from the book. Throughout, Heskett uses numerous detailed examples from organisations large and small, local and global, across industries.

Tools to measure culture and its impact:

The book also features excellent chapter summaries for those who prefer to skim, though I do recommend engaging deeply in the entire book.

What are your favourite books on organisational culture?

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