What is organizational culture

Posted by Torben Rick | January 2, 2015 | Corporate Culture, Organisational Development
What is organizational culture

What is organizational culture

One of the most important building blocks for a highly successful organization and an extraordinary workplace is “organizational culture”.

What is organizational culture - Infographic

What is organizational culture – Why leaders should care about organizational culture

The importance of culture in organizations

The most important thing about culture is that it’s the only sustainable point of difference for any organization. Anyone can copy a company’s strategy, but nobody can copy their culture. But what is organizational culture?

Culture is driven by leadership. How leaders behave, what they say, and what they value drives culture

  • Culture is how organizations do things
  • The values and behaviors that contribute to the unique social and psychological environment of an organization
  • Organizational culture defines a jointly shared description of an organization from within
  • Organizational culture is the sum of values and rituals which serve as “glue” to integrate the members of the organization
  • Organizational culture is a system of shared assumptions, values, and beliefs, which governs how people behave in organizations
  • Organizational culture is civilization in the workplace
  • Organizational culture refers to the philosophies, attitudes, beliefs, behaviors and practices that define an organization
  • Culture is the organization’s immune system
  • It over simplifies the situation in large organizations to assume there is only one culture … and it’s risky for new leaders to ignore the sub-cultures

Organizational culture is like an iceberg

At its worst, corporate culture can be a drag on productivity and performance. At its best, it is an emotional energizer.

Corporate culture is like an iceberg, with most of its weight and bulk below the surface. Don’t leave the organizational iceberg unattended!

And let’s forget that the culture of any organization is shaped by leadership.

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About The Author

Torben Rick

Experienced senior executive, both at a strategic and operational level, with strong track record in developing, driving and managing business improvement, development and change management. International experience from management positions in Denmark, Germany and Switzerland.

Blog Comments

Hi, Torben:

Very useful and clear infographic. I especially like the comment tucked in near the bottom about the mistake I see all too often: Assuming that you are only dealing with one culture.

Any culture that thrives will have sub-cultures, mini-groups, branches, and we fail when we think that any one strategy will work for all. That’s why solutions which offer only one approach do not do well, at least in my experience.

Thanks for sharing – I always find value in your posts.


Thanks John – Good point!

I agree, but there is always too much difference between good intentions and actual behavior.

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