Sustaining The Organizational Culture

The literature on the issue of sustaining the organizational culture too is richly bestowed with a variety of research findings, experience tales as well as in-depth theoretical discourses. Many authors have culled down their vast experiences to present the different to-do lists that would help in those who are amid the organizational culture sustenance stage. Presented here is a representative reference list of some of such representative articles:

Here are some of the videos:

Sustaining success depends on an organization’s ability to adapt to a changing environment – whether it’s an external change, such as a transformative technology or a changing economy, or an internal one, such as a restructuring or key process overhaul. Many aa times, this requires going beyond just the written rules to reaching for the highest aspirational behaviour. It means living the principles underpinning the values, even when there is no rule or where the written rule is unclear. In this abstract form, many employees, even at the senior management levels, necessarily understand why the company has to operate in a different way in the future. Therefore, merely challenging their status quo mind set alone will not suffice. These people need to be instilled with simple, conceivable cultural norms and behaviors that translate the organization’s unique personality and soul into customer-focused actions and bottom-line results. Maintaining momentum among employees requires consistent, sustained communication of the end goal and the behaviours necessary to get there.

It shall be well remembered that organizational culture is one of the several means to an end, not an end in itself. The end is your business’s strategic agenda. Thus, sustaining the winning culture should be primarily pursued with the ultimate vision of sustaining the competitive edge, within the constantly varying context of the organization. It’s about raising sights beyond the strategic choices and daily initiatives to change how the organization works.

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All month-wise published episodes of the series, published in 2020, The Organizational Culture, are collated in one file and can be read / downloaded by clicking on the hyperlink.

Improving the Organizational Culture

Changing an organization’s culture is no small feat. It takes time and persistence. But a lean organization is one that is fundamentally human-centered, one that enables people to thrive and grow. If we focus more on leadership mindset and behavior, and less on the mechanical aspects of operational excellence, it should be easier to create the culture we want.[1]

The literature on organizational culture improvement is agog with principles of improvement in culture as well as  keys to creating a high performance culture. We will leave detailed browsing of these to more interested quality professionals. I have picked up one topic for a closer view here.

What follows in extracted script of the video The Westrum Model for Improving Organizational Culture

In 1988, Ron Westrum developed a typology of organizational cultures.

  • Pathological or power-oriented organizations are characterized by large amounts of fear and threat. People often hoard information or withhold it for political reasons or distort it to make themselves look better.
  • Bureaucratic, rule-oriented organizations protect departments. Those in the department want to maintain their turf, insist on their own rules, and generally do things by the book, their book.
  • Generative or performance-oriented organizations focus on the mission. How do we accomplish our goal? Everything is subordinated to good performance, to doing what we’re supposed to do.

Westrum’s further insight was that the organizational culture predicts the way information flows through an organization. Westrum provides three characteristics of good information.

  • First, it provides answers to the questions that the receiver needs answered.
  • Second, it is timely.
  • Lastly, it is presented in such a way that it can be effectively used by the receiver.

Good information flow is critical to the safe and effective operation of high-tempo and high-consequence environments, including technology organizations.

Additional insight from Westrum was that this definition of organizational culture predicts performance outcomes.

To go into more detail regarding the typology, this table on screen helps with describing the behavior seen in three types of cultures outlined: pathological, bureaucratic, and generative.

This shows the high-performing organizations are actually continuously learning and improving and trying to get better.

Culture enables information processing through three mechanisms.

  • First, in organizations with a generative culture, people collaborate more effectively and there is a higher level of trust both across the organization and up and down the hierarchy.
  • Second, generative culture emphasizes the mission, an emphasis that allows people involved to put aside their personal issues and also the departmental issues that are so evident in bureaucratic organizations. The mission is primary.
  • Third, generativity encourages a level playing field, in which hierarchy plays less of a role.

A good culture is reflected in the high level of collaboration and trust inside the organization. In addition, a better organizational culture can indicate higher-quality decision making. In a team with a generative culture, not only is the better information available for making decisions, but those decisions are more easily reversed if they turn out to be wrong, because the team is more likely to be open and transparent. Problems are also more rapidly discovered and addressed.

Ultimately, culture predicts software delivery performance, organizational performance, and leads to higher levels of job satisfaction.[2]

Value creation in the past was a function of economies of industrial scale: mass production and the high efficiency of repeatable tasks. The value of products and services today is based more and more on creativity – the innovative ways that they take advantage of new materials, technologies, and processes.

The means and speed of the value creation will bring massive disruption. Therefore, the only question that any organizational culture improvement initiative should address is whether your company is going to cause it or fall victim to it.[3]

[1] Why You’re Struggling to Improve Company Culture? = Dan Markovitz

[2] The Westrum Model for Improving Organizational Culture

[3] Value creation in the future

Organizational Culture Transformation

Culture change cannot be achieved through top-down mandate. It lives in the collective hearts and habits of people and their shared perception of “how things are done around here.”

The most significant change often comes through social movements,

We often think of movements as starting with a call to action. But movement research suggests that they actually start with emotion — a diffuse dissatisfaction with the status quo and a broad sense that the current institutions and power structures of the society will not address the problem.

The social movements typically start small. They begin with a group of passionate enthusiasts who deliver a few modest wins. While these wins are small, they are powerful in demonstrating efficacy to nonparticipants, and they help the movement gain steam. The movement really gathers force and scale once this group successfully co-opts existing networks and influencers.

Practices for Leading a Cultural Movement

Leaders should not be too quick or simplistic in their translation of social movement dynamics into change management plans. That said, leaders can learn a lot from the practices of skillful movement makers.

Frame the issue. Successful leaders of movements are often the masters of framing situations in terms that stir emotion and incite action.Framing can also apply social pressure to conform.  In terms of organizational culture change, a leader can do this by framing change within the organization’s purpose — the “why we exist” question.

Demonstrate quick wins. Movement makers are very good at recognizing the power of celebrating small wins. When it comes to organizational culture change, leaders too often fall into the trap of declaring the culture shifts they hope to see. Instead, they need to spotlight examples of actions they hope to see more of within the culture. Sometimes, these examples already exist within the culture, but at a limited scale. Other times, they need to be created.

Harness networks. Effective movement makers are extremely good at building coalitions, bridging disparate groups to form a larger and more diverse network that shares a common purpose. And effective movement makers know how to activate existing networks for their purposes.

Create safe havens. Movement makers are experts at creating or identifying spaces within which movement members can craft strategy and discuss tactics. These are spaces where the rules of engagement and behaviors of activists are different from those of the dominant culture. They’re microcosms of what the movement hopes will become the future.

Embrace symbols. Movement makers are experts at constructing and deploying symbols and costumes that simultaneously create a feeling of solidarity and demarcate who they are and what they stand for to the outside world. Symbols and costumes of solidarity help define the boundary between “us” and “them” for movements.

The Challenge to Leadership

When it comes to culture change, authority of the position to order a mandate should be used sparingly. It is easy to overuse one’s authority in the hopes of accelerating transformation.

It is also easy for an enterprise leader to shy away from organizational friction. Harmony is generally a preferred state, after all. And the success of an organizational transition is often judged by its seamlessness.

In a movements-based approach to change, a moderate amount of friction is positive. A complete absence of friction probably means that little is actually changing. Look for the places where the movement faces resistance and experiences friction. They often indicate where the dominant organizational design and culture may need to evolve.

And remember that culture change only happens when people take action. So start there. While articulating a mission and changing company structures are important, it is often a more successful approach to tackle those sorts of issues after you’ve been able to show people the change you want to see.[1]

The following schematic model provides essentials of a culture transformation design model.

According to the Barrett Values Model, cultural transformation is evolutionary in nature. The whole journey of change covers both internal and external environments and the gradual sense of identity regarding who we are. “Vibrant cultures have high levels of performance because they create internal cohesion, attract talented people, and inspire employees to go the extra mile.”[2]

Source: The Barrett Model – Barrett Values CentreTanya Lapinski

The literature available on the subject is an ocean. Here is what is good enough to understand the basics.

Further reading:

[1] Changing Company Culture Requires a Movement, Not a Mandate by Bryan Walker and Sarah A. Soule

[2] Importance of a culture transformation

Carnival of Quality Management Articles and Blogs – September, 2020

Welcome to September 2020 edition of Carnival of Quality Management Articles and Blogs.

For the year 2020, we have chosen the core subject of Revisiting Basic Quality Concepts w.r.t. the sustained success of the organization As of now we have visited

  • History of Quality in January 2020
  • The Sustained Success of Organization in February 2020
  • Organizational Context in March 2020
  • Understanding Needs and Expectations of the Interested Parties in April 2020
  • Risk Based Approach in May 2020
  • Opportunity Based Approach in June 2020
  • The Organizational Knowledge for the Sustained Success in July 2020
  • Competent people for the sustained organizational success in August 2020

We take up Process Management for Sustained Success as our next core concept this month–

The importance of process as the fundamental block of every management systems of an organization is now universally accepted.

Unfortunately, ‘process’ is normally seen with a narrow utilitarian concept of the tool for managing the set of related activities. At best, it is considered a link in chain of different processes that makes up the management system. As result, many times its usefulness in in continually improving the effectiveness and efficiency of the organization’s performance also is underplayed.

The organizational knowledge that is inherently stored process management gets locked up in either the dusty files or on the huge database servers, behind well protected ‘security’ locks. This traditional approach to the process management falls short on fundamental process management requirements as a live vehicle to carry the organizational knowledge:[1]

These limitations help in providing the road map of a process management platform can help you prioritize process excellence and set your organization on the road to greater success.[2]

The stages of development in the ISO standard 9004 reflects the changing emphasis of importance of process management as a tool to attain sustained success. From being a set of guidelines for improved performance, it became guidelines for process improvement, and then process improvement itself became the approach to manage the sustained success, and now links it to the quality of the organization for achieving sustained success.

The Clause 8 relates process management of organization’s core and support processes behind the scenes of an organisation’s sustained success. This creates a system in which the needs and expectations of interested parties thrive in the vibrant quality of an organisation. The Quality of organization being now defined as “the degree to which the inherent characteristics of the organisation fulfill the needs and expectations of its customers and other interested parties, in order to achieve sustained success”.

The 2018 edition of the standard recognizes that by developing the leading KPIs that are linked to the organization’s dynamically changing context w.r.t. the needs and expectations of its customers and other relevant interested parties,  “Organisations deliver value through activities connected within a network of processes.”[3]

The detailed note on Process Management for Sustained Success can be accessed by clicking on the hyperlink.

We will now turn to our regular sections:

In the series the Organizational Culture, we have taken up Measuring Organizational Culture – Measurement of organizational culture acts as guide to the roadmap for improving culture and the performance through better decisions, by more engaged people and more cohesive culture leads to improved performance .

We now watch ASQ TV, wherein we look at a relevant video from the archive:

  • What is the Baldrige Program?The Baldrige Program was established in 1987 to encourage American organizations to practice effective quality control in the provision of goods and services so they could better compete in a demanding global market.

To learn more about the Baldrige Excellence Program Click Here.

From Jim L. Smith’s Jim’s Gems this month we have picked up one article

  • Advantages of Wait Time and what we do with that time. You can either keep fuming and fretting or regard this as gift of time. In the latter case, this can be gainfully utilized to perform something which was being postponed because of ‘lack of time’ – be it develop possible solutions to till now unresolved problems, plan (revise) day’s to-do-list, or just creatively relax and recharge your batteries. The possibilities are endless, in fact limited by your own determination and imagination. But there is no doubt that this is THE time to create a better life for you and the others you influence

 I look forward to your views / comments / inputs to further enrich the subjects of Basics of Quality and Organizational Culture and their role in Creating and Maintaining Sustained Success.

Note: The images depicted here above are through courtesy of respective websites who have the copyrights for the respective images.

[1] 5 Key Factors to Creating Successful, Sustainable Process Management Ivan Seseji

[2] 5 ways process management can drive sustainable success

[3] Achieving sustained success with ISO 9004:2018 – Hope Kiwekete

Carnival of Quality Management Articles and Blogs – August, 2020

Welcome to August 2020 edition of Carnival of Quality Management Articles and Blogs.

For the year 2020, we have chosen the core subject of Revisiting Basic Quality Concepts w.r.t. the sustained success of the organization As of now we have visited

We take up Competent people for the sustained organizational success as our next core concept this month–

Competence is the set of demonstrable characteristics and skills that enable, and improve the efficiency or performance of a job… To be competent a person would need to be able to interpret the situation in the context and to have a repertoire of possible actions to take and have been trained in the possible actions in the repertoire, if this is relevant. Regardless of training, competency would grow through experience and the extent of an individual’s capacity to learn and adapt.[1]

In order to fill this gap, a list of 14 organizational and people characteristics that can be grouped into five broad dimensions is compiled, which can lead to sustained performance by driving organizational and people capabilities. .

High-performance organizations are effective at translating their business strategy into a compelling people strategy. [2]

The key to creating a vibrant and sustainable company is to find ways to get all employees—from top executives to assembly line workers—personally engaged in day-to-day corporate sustainability efforts… A company can implement eight practices to help bridge the distance between an employee’s personal values and a company’s business practices, to create a competent people platform for the sustainable company. [3]

Meanwhile, persistent uncertainty, a multigenerational workforce, and a shorter shelf life for knowledge have placed a premium on reskilling and upskilling. The shift to a digital, knowledge-based economy means that a vibrant workforce is more important than ever, and have elevated the importance of the learning-and-development (L&D) function.

One of L&D’s primary responsibilities is to manage the development of people—and to do so in a way that supports other key business priorities. L&D’s strategic role spans five areas –

Over the years, nine dimensions have been identified and field-tested that contribute to a strong L&D function. These dimensions are combined to create the ACADEMIES framework, which covers all aspects of L&D functions, from setting aspirations to measuring impact.[4]

Four things standout to prioritize people in times of crisis[5]

  • First is the importance of prioritizing people, in terms of getting out, demonstrating empathy, and engaging with people to understand what their concerns are.
  • Second would be the importance of creating clarity on what matters most. From a leadership perspective, giving some sense of certainty and hope is important to navigate the crisis.
  • Third is the need to be responsive and fluid to the dynamics of an evolving crisis.
  • And the final one is the importance of gaining perspective. Early on in a crisis, it can be easy to get tunnel vision and to focus on managing what’s in front of your nose. But the earlier that you can find a means of stepping back and seeing the bigger picture, and pushing out the time horizon of that perspective, the better. That will allow you to sense what’s coming and get ready for what’s around the corner.

The punch line is that the people need to be competent enough to address the challenges of the future successfully within the context of present, rapidly changing business scenario..

Additional Reading:

The detailed note on Competent people for the sustained organizational success can by clicking on the hyperlink.

We will now turn to our regular sections:

In the series the Organizational Culture, we have taken up Understanding the Organizational Culture – As anthropologist Margaret Mead states, “What people say, what people do, and what they say they do are entirely different things.”. They have a tendency to focus on “The way we say we get things done” and don’t focus on “The way we really get things done”, what is normally known as what’s below the organizations surface.[6]

We now watch ASQ TV, wherein we look at a relevant video from the archive:

From Jim L. Smith’s Jim’s Gems this month we have picked up one article

  • Core DNA – Values, ethics and integrity are the three attributes to achieve cultural excellence – Core DNA values act as guideposts to appropriate business behavior. Creating value requires the courage to have fierce conversations intended to help the business progress. The focus on values includes a desire to win and envisioning the future—not whining and wallowing in the past…. As an organization evolves, so do its core values… To create sustainable business value that will endure for decades, organizations must set standards and then abide by those codes. … A common myth is that an organization cannot simultaneously increase sales, protect its interests and be ethically sound…. However, by creating a standard set of ethical guidelines, organizations are laying the groundwork to protect their interests. While gains are not always quantifiable in the short term, these organizations will be building a foundation of prosperity for years to come….To be successful, organizations must synchronize values with desired outcomes… Ethics should be at the core of what makes a business run.

I look forward to your views / comments / inputs to further enrich the subjects of Basics of Quality and Organizational Culture and their role in Creating and Maintaining Sustained Success.

Note: The images depicted here above are through courtesy of respective websites who have the copyrights for the respective images.

[1] Competence

[2] High Performance organizations By Vikram BhallaJean-Michel CayeAndrew Dyer, Lisa Dymond, Yves Morieux, and Paul Orlander

[3] Engaging Employees to Create a Sustainable Business By Paul Polman & CB Bhattacharya

[4] The essential components of a successful L&D strategy By Jacqueline Brassey, Lisa Christensen, and Nick van Dam

[5] Prioritize people in times of crisis: An interview with Mike Henry, the CEO of BHP

[6] What have the invisible man and the organizational culture in common

Understanding the Organizational Culture

An on-going organization already has its own unique culture. Before any major change initiative that seems to call for organizational culture transformation, it is necessary that the present organizational culture is well understood. The wide-ranging literature available about organizational culture has addressed the topic of How to Understand the Organizational Culture from different perspectives and in differing contexts. A very elementary paper like ours, obviously, will have to be content with referring to a few of the representative excerpts from such literature.

The first step in understanding the organizational culture is to observe[1]:

  • Try to become an impartial observer of your culture in action. Ask yourself questions such as: How do people interact with each other? How are conflicts resolved (and are there conflicts)? How do senior leaders interact with middle managers and employees? How do middle managers interact with reporting employees?
  • Watch for emotions. Emotions are indications of values. People do not get excited or upset about things that are unimportant to them. Examine conflicts closely, for the same reason. Do people seem engaged, interactive, excited, happy, friendly, morose, or withdrawn? Do they smile and interact with you as you walk by their desks?
  • Look at the objects and artifacts that sit on desks and hang on walls. Observe common areas and furniture arrangements. Are they interactive or are they sterile? In one memorable company, to several consultants who were walking through the cubicleville, the sterileness of the environment was striking—no family photos, plants, knick-knacks, desk accessories, or toys. The company president informed the visiting consultants, privately and under strict confidentiality, that he was closing the company at the first of the month—and he didn’t want the employees to know. The consultants informed him that the employees already knew. Their empty workstations were a testimony to this knowledge.
  • When you observe and interact with employees, watch for things that are not there. If nobody mentions something that you think is important (like the customers or expected sales growth), that is interesting information. It will help you understand your organization’s culture.

It is also considered that the best way to get a grasp on organizational culture is to identify the elements that go into a successful one. The Harvard Business Review identifies six components[2]:

  • Vision: A shared vision stems from a carefully crafted mission statement that answers the following three questions: Who is being served? What needs are being satisfied? How are those needs being satisfied?
  • Values: Values exemplify the behaviors that are expected from employees.
  • Practices: Practices explain how the vision and values are put into effect. Leadership must set an example for workers to follow.
  • People: Workers need to demonstrate not just excellent capabilities and a high level of productivity, but an ability to align to the company culture and vision.
  • Narrative: Organizations must share this with employees — even those who have just started — to make sure everyone understands where the company came from and where it is headed.
  • Place: The physical workplace environment can have a strong impact on culture. Recent trends have leaned toward open and highly collaborative workspaces, but there has been some backlash against this thinking. Authors Kim Cameron and Robert Quinn have identified four types of organizational cultures in their ground-breaking book, Diagnosing and Changing Organizational Culture, Based on the Competing Values Framework.

The following four keys provide an alternative method to understand the organizational culture[3]:

Key 1: Recognize That You Do Have Company Culture

Every organization has company culture, whether intentionally cultivated or not. In short, it refers to the combination of values, goals, ethics, and expectations that govern and influence employee behaviors. If negative behaviors have been left to develop unchecked, with no guidance or direction, then yes, a company culture that supports bad habits may have taken root.

It is not enough to simply announce that vision. You must first figure out what (and how) current behaviors need to shift in order to develop a roadmap to achieve those changes. That’s why it’s so important to define your current company culture before you try to steer it in a new direction.

Key 2: Analyze Your Company’s Priorities

If you want to better understand your culture, look at your company’s priorities. These goals and initiatives reveal what your organization values and what it does not (both explicitly and implicitly). Questions to ask yourself about company priorities may include:

  • Do your employees hear more about increasing the bottom line or increasing customer satisfaction?
  • Does your company give employees the freedom to experiment and innovate when it comes to solving problems, or is following protocol more important?
  • Is taking calculated risks seen as a distraction or opportunity?
  • How much (or how little) does your company invest in ongoing training efforts, both in terms of money and time?
  • When your company considers adopting certain efforts or changes, are the thoughts and feelings of both leadership and employees considered?

Exploring questions like this can give you clues as to what kind of culture your company has cultivated. Is it one with a workforce that’s empowered, engaged, and encouraged to innovate and improve? Or a culture where the bottom line is often prioritized? If your company’s priorities give you pause, it may be time to explore a culture transformation.

Key 3: Inquire About Company Culture

Your company culture is made up of behaviors, those that are encouraged, permitted, and unhindered. To understand what kind makes up your organization, it’s best to go directly to the source: your employees.

Consider ways to get feedback on which behaviors currently serves the company well and which need to be discouraged or changed to elevate your organization. Gather feedback from all levels of employees, from executives to front-line managers. Surveys, company-wide assessments, and focus groups can all help create a clearer picture of the behaviors that define your current company culture. Again, the key is to engage every employee as you ask for feedback because the sum total of all employee contributions and behaviors are what make up your culture.

Key 4: Look to Your Leaders

While every employee contributes to company culture, leaders have more impact and influence. Examine the messages your leadership team puts forth, and whether action follows those words. Leadership may espouse values and a mission that excites employees, but if leadership itself doesn’t “walk the walk,” their behavior can contribute to a culture of distrust and disengagement. Culture starts from the top down, and your leadership sets the tone for what is permissible and encouraged in your company and what’s not.

On the highest level, artifacts of culture are what we can directly see and feel when entering an organization such as office space, symbols, dress codes, etc. In the middle, are espoused values of culture, formally documented within organizational vision, values and mission and informally expressed in what people say why they do (informed by interviews). The most fundamental aspect of culture is the collective, taken-for-granted, underlying assumptions, norms, beliefs and feelings that drive behaviors (informed by deep questioning and participant-observation). Understanding the underlying assumptions of the people in an organization is essential to come out with insights into organizational culture and transformation. This is often done by examining the connections between the perceptions of different aspects of culture — see SPEC’L framework. For example, an organization may claim to value ‘innovation’ but does not practice ‘openness’ (a value that supports innovation) because of underlying assumptions behind the proper distribution of power and information. As anthropologist Margaret Mead states,

“What people say, what people do, and what they say they do are entirely different things.”

Explaining these gaps and contradictions can reveal insights into how specific organizational culture (or sub-cultures) works. It is also worth noting that larger organizations, especially ones with units operating in silos are bound to contain several sub-groups and sub-cultures.[4]

It must be remembered that even as these approaches are valid and useful, but in many cases they are ignoring or not paying attention to what’s below the organizations surface. They have a tendency to focus on “The way we say we get things done” and don’t focus on “The way we really get things done”.[5]

Ignoring what’s below the surface will ultimately undermine organizational change.

The value of an organization will be measured by its capability to change

When creating a list of questions to assess the current culture, take into consideration aspects above AND below the surface:

[1] How to Understand Your Current Company Culture  – by Susan M. Heathfield

[2] Organizational Culture: Understanding What It Is and How to Improve It

[3] 4 Essential Keys to Understanding Your Company’s Culture By Dave Root

[4] Looking at Humor in Organizational Culture – Shaun Lim

[5] What have the invisible man and the organizational culture in common

Carnival of Quality Management Articles and Blogs – July 2020

Welcome to July 2020 edition of Carnival of Quality Management Articles and Blogs.

For the year 2020, we have chosen the core subject of Revisiting Basic Quality Concepts w.r.t. the sustained success of the organization As of now we have visited

We take up The Organizational Knowledge for the Sustained Success as our next core concept this month–

Auditing Practices Group Guidance on: Organisational Knowledge, ISO & IAF (2016) defines organizational knowledge as “Organizational Knowledge is the specific knowledge of the organization, coming either from its collective experience or from the individual experience of its persons. In an explicit or implicit way this knowledge is, or can be, used to attain the organization’s objectives.”

The two important features that emerge from this definition are:

Firstly, ‘knowledge’ is an important resource.

Secondly,  ‘Organizational Knowledge‘ is an asset that we cannot quantify

The two basic ways to classify the organizational knowledge are –

Tacit knowledge: This knowledge is often referred to as the ‘know-how’ that exists in an organisation.

Examples of tacit knowledge include skills acquired through tradition, common knowledge or understanding, etc.

Explicit knowledge – Explicit knowledge is the ‘know-what’ knowledge that has been formalized, articulated and most often documented.

Examples of explicit knowledge include databases, memos, notes, documents, etc.

Some more classifications are also applied:

  • Implicit knowledge is ‘knowledge’ that can be articulated but has not yet been articulated.
  • Procedural knowledge is ‘knowledge’ that manifests itself through an activity.
  • Declarative knowledge is ‘knowledge’ that consists of descriptions of facts and things or methods and procedures.
  • Strategic knowledge is the ‘knowledge’ of when to do something and why to do it.[1]

In general, the following are the Sources of Knowledge:

Knowledge can be found almost anywhere in your organization and comes in many tangible and intangible forms. For example:

  • Individual—These are good sources of tacit knowledge.
  • Group/Community— These are good sources of explicit, implicit, and tacit knowledge.
  • Structural—These are sources of implicit knowledge.
  • Organizational memory—These are good sources for a combination of tacit and explicit knowledge.

The knowledge is generally captured in the following Repositories of Knowledge

  • Documentation of any kind
  • Internal knowledge bases
  • Customer-facing knowledge bases
  • FAQs
  • Intranets
  • Onboarding materials
  • Training materials
  • Webinars
  • Case studies

Other repositories can include:

  • Databases
  • Internal collaboration tools
  • Ticketing systems
  • Wikis/communities/forums[2]

Knowledge Model is represented as:

Knowledge Transfer is visualized as:[3]

The benefits of knowledge sharing are numerous[4]:

  • Knowledge overcomes fear
  • Knowledge breaks down barriers & facilitates communication
  • Seeing the “Big Picture” reinforces that we’re all in this together.
  • Knowledge reveals the reasons behind the actions
  • Knowledge leads to intelligent decisions.
  • Knowledge is motivating and empowering
  • Knowledge encourages involvement & breeds a feeling of ownership –
  • Knowledge creates opportunities –

Three key reasons why actively managing knowledge is important to a company’s success are[5]:

  • Facilitates decision-making capabilities,
  • Builds learning organizations by making learning routine, and,
  • Stimulates cultural change and innovation.

While most business leaders appreciate the strategic value of knowledge and the need to manage their knowledge assets, many of them seem unable to derive real benefits from their efforts. There are several reasons for this, including their persistence in viewing knowledge management (KM) as a supply-side issue, namely their belief that the acquisition of the right knowledge automatically produces benefits. Other reasons that benefits don’t materialize include a lack of focus on KM initiatives; a staggering over reliance on technology to provide both the solution and the benefit; structures that are inappropriate for capitalizing on an organization’s knowledge assets; and lastly, a lack of proper ownership[6].

An effective knowledge management strategy enables an organization to create, apply, and share information, breaking down silos and increasing usage of valuable data. The right strategy sustains organizational objectives as technologies evolve, keeps companies on the bleeding edge of industry trends, and pushing one step ahead of the competition at all times.[7]

Suggested Additional Reading:

The detailed note on The Organizational Knowledge for the Sustained Success can by clicking on the hyperlink.

We will now turn to our regular sections:

In the series the Organizational Culture, we have taken up Building The Organizational Culture

We now watch ASQ TV, wherein we look at a few relevant videos from the archive:

We do not have relevant article from Jim L. Smith’s Jim’s Gems this month.So we move on to  –

The Unfolding Course of Events – Looking to the past provides some Michelle Bangert . “It is not given to human beings—happily for them, for otherwise life would be intolerable—to foresee or to predict to any large extent the unfolding course of events.” – Winston Churchill from his eulogy for Neville Chamberlain, November 12, 1940. – is a quote from the Erik Larson’s book The Splendid and the Vile, wherein the author has presented in the cinematic detail, how Churchill taught the British people “the art of being fearless.”

I look forward to your views / comments / inputs to further enrich the subjects of Basics of Quality and Organizational Culture and their role in Creating and Maintaining Sustained Success.

Note: The images depicted here above are through courtesy of respective websites who have the copyrights for the respective images.

[1] What is Organisational Knowledge and why is it so important?

[2] What Is Organizational Knowledge, and Where Can I Find It? – Emil Hajric


[4] 7 reasons – Organizational Knowledge is powerDonna Coppock

[5] Why Knowledge Management Is Important To The Success Of Your CompanyLisa Quast


[7] The Competitive Advantage of the Right Knowledge Management Solution

Building The Organizational Culture

An organization’s culture is shaped as the organization faces external and internal challenges and learns how to deal with them. When the organization’s way of doing business provides a successful adaptation to environmental challenges and ensures success, those values are retained. These values and ways of doing business are taught to new members as the way to do business (Schein, 1992).

The factors that are most important in the creation of an organization’s culture include Leadership (founders’) values, preferences, and industry demands.[1]

Most of the organizations that have been able to build strong structures, would testify to these truths:

  1. Creating culture requires an intentional plan
  2. People do what they see
  3. Systems are critical – Systems create habits and habits create behaviors and behaviors create culture. [2]

A winning culture has two defining characteristics:

  • A unique personality and soul based on shared values and heritage.
  • Cultural norms and behaviors that translate the organization’s unique personality and soul into customer-focused actions and bottom-line results.[3]

When you are defining the culture for your new organization, or the team, you set a culture that defines the performance and happiness of you and your colleagues…. This means that as a leader your company culture is you; the good and bad of how you behave and handle situations will be how your team handles the situation…. Next time you look at your team and see something in your culture you don’t like, the first thing you should do is look at yourself.

  • Search for your blind spots.
  • Lead by example
  • Show humility and accountability
  • Set, maintain, and improve the standards

Think about the changes you want to see and then take a long, hard look in the mirror and ask yourself how you can be part of the solution through your actions.[4]

One should be able to lay hands on a wide variety of literature relating ‘How to build a (winning) culture?’. It would be advisable to browse through the ones that seem more relevant to your context and needs. Here is one such model: Building Company Culture The Right Way –  Kate Heinz, Use this exposure to provide you a broad theoretical framework. In the end, you will work your won, your very own, method.

Suggested additional readings- Illustrative:

[1] How Are Cultures Created?

[2] How can you create the culture you want?

[3] Creating and Sustaining a Winning Culture – Paul Meehan, Darrell Rigby, and Paul Rogers

[4] The One Key to Building and Keeping a Great Company Culture

Carnival of Quality Management Articles and Blogs – June 2020

Welcome to June 2020 edition of Carnival of Quality Management Articles and Blogs.

For the year 2020, we have chosen the core subject of Revisiting Basic Quality Concepts w.r.t. the sustained success of the organization As of now we have visited

We take up Opportunity Based Approach as our next core concept this month–

One key area of recent development in the risk-based thinking is the inclusion of opportunity in the definition of risk, with a resulting broadening of the scope of the risk process to manage the uncertainty in both upside and downside proactively. Encompassing both opportunities and threats within a single definition of risk is a clear statement of intent, recognizing that both are equally important influences over business success, and both need to be managed proactively.[1]

The more complex anVUCA (an acronym for volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity)  environment is, the more unexpected opportunities appear and disappear again just as quickly. Therefore, opportunity management is above all a mindset. A mindset that also derives opportunities from risks. In effect, this would call for moving from the traditional causal model of decision-making logic to non-causal decision-making model, also known as effectuation.

Effectuation knows four principles. These principles stand in contrast to a causal logic that is often applied in classical (management) organizations:

  • Middle orientation (vs. goal orientation)
  • Reasonable input or loss (vs. expected return)
  • Using circumstances and coincidences (vs. avoiding)
  • Partnerships (vs. competitive thinking)

Effectuation also differs from causal logic in the subject of “posture”. The following is a small presentation of the attitude of the two orientations in comparison:

  Causal Logic Effectuation
Basic Idea The future is predictable and plannable The future is not predictable, but it can be influenced
Basis for Action goal-oriented resource-oriented
Risk Orientation expected return affordable effort or affordable loss
Attitude towards others competitive cooperative
Attitude to Coincidences avoid utilize

And as soon as it makes sense to design projects with plans and implement them, this should also happen in practice.[2]


The role of a quality professional needs to be able to facilitate an ongoing dialogue linking organizational context with the needs of interested parties (stake holders) during the business / product life cycle, w.r.t. the strategic direction of the organization and provide methods to facilitate dialogue with stakeholders. With this new role the quality professional will be key to improvements in products, processes and services while identifying new technology opportunities to effectively meet stakeholder expectations in the changing context of the organization.[3]

In order to present these concepts of creating a new mindset, here are a few videos. These should help in clarifying these concepts with the help of some real-life experiences.

Opportunity Based Thinking – Andrew Isham – The basic premise is – We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them. (Albert Einstein). In order to that, ne should ask the questions on the validity of the assumptions that are already made.

Uncommon Sense: Moving from a Problem-Focused to Solution-Focused Mindset | Mel Gill | TEDxVarna suggests that better look at the problem as a situation. View that as possibility, if not available outside, then from within. Rembert always, to take the first step, towards action of initiating that possibility into the reality. Do not, ever, accept failure as your destination.

How to Identify a Business Opportunity? | Sanjeev Bikhchandani | TEDxSRCC – is all about finding out what need or expectation of a customer, or for that matter, the relevant interested party, has remained unmet. Think about problems that are unsolved.

See Problems As Opportunities | Mona Patel | TEDxNewBedford –

We all have places in our lives where we say, “I can’t.” Even though this very human, the fact remain that these are excusesTo design your way around the “can’t,” you have to understand what your “can’t” is. Then, start looking at the problem as an opportunity. Funnel down the options to a manageable actionable set.

Additional Reading

Risk and Opportunity Management – Lockheed Martin

[N.B. – Detailed note on Opportunities Based Approach can be read / downloaded by clicking on the hyper link.]

We will now turn to our regular sections:

In the series the Organizational Culture, we have taken up Why Organizational Culture is (that Much !?) Important?

We now watch ASQ TV, wherein we look at a few relevant videos from the archive:

  • Risk, Organizational Culture and Small Business – In this video, Denise Robitaille, member of the U.S. Technical Advisory Group to Technical Committee 176 (TAG 176), discusses how the revised version of ISO 9001 may handle risk as well as the revision’s effect on small organizations.

Jim L. Smith’s Jim’s Gems posting for June 2020 –

  • Change: Management Must Understand Why Changes Fail – Rick Maurer, in his book “Beyond the Wall of Resistance: Why 70% of All Changes Still Fail – and What You Can Do About It,” listed four big mistakes that change leaders consistently make: assuming that understanding equals support and commitment; understanding the potential power of employee and management engagement; failure to appreciate the power of fear; and failure to acknowledge that even a slight lack of trust and confidence in leaders can kill a good idea.
  • Keep Going – We need to carefully consider each commitment before making it. After deciding to make the commitment, create a plan and move toward the goal….  The way to keep going is to continually remind yourself why the project was initially started. This will provide a compelling reason to be persistent…. Keep going, and after the journey is complete, enjoy the moment to bask in the glow of accomplishment. But do not become stagnant. Make another commitment to start anew as that is what life is about

I look forward to your views / comments / inputs to further enrich the subjects of Basics of Quality and Organizational Culture and their role in Creating and Maintaining Sustained Success.

Note: The images depicted here above are through courtesy of respective websites who have the copyrights for the respective images.

[1] Managing Both Sides of Risk: Threat and Opportunity – Dr David Hillson

[2] Decision making in uncertain circumstances

[3]Opportunity Based Thinking; Is this a Paradigm Shift for a Quality Professional?” – Angelo Scangas, Quality Support Group, Inc.

Carnival of Quality Management Articles and Blogs – May 2020

Welcome to May 2020 edition of Carnival of Quality Management Articles and Blogs.

For the year 2020, we have chosen the core subject of Revisiting Basic Quality Concepts w.r.t. the sustained success of the organization As of now we have visited

We take up Risk Based Approach as our core concept this month–

The most prevalent change that the advent of 21st century has witnessed is the extremely dynamic rate of change. If change was the constant of later part of 20th century, it is almost becoming beyond human comprehension rapid rate of change that is becoming the new-normal with passing of every year of the present century. This rapid change is making what w=is already ‘known’ now ‘known unknown’. The uncertainty that this rapid rate of change ushers in creates the world around extremely fluid.

For our present purpose of “Revisiting the Basic Quality Concepts’ we will briefly look at two articles published in HBR – one in 1994 and the one in 2012.

The first article, A Framework for Risk Management  by Kenneth A. Froot, David S. Scharfstein, Jeremy C. Stein  (November–December 1994 Issue of HBR) is based on finance specific perspective of Risk.

The risk-management paradigm rests on three basic premises:

      • making good investments.
      • to making good investments by generating enough cash internally to fund those investments.
      • maintaining adequate cash flow

A risk-management program, therefore, should have a single overarching goal: to ensure that a company has the cash available to make value-enhancing investments.

By recognizing and accepting this goal, managers will be better equipped to address the most basic questions of risk management.

If we paraphrase the message of this article for the organization as whole, we understand that basic aim of risk management practices is to ensure that while maintaining its near and medium term operating parameters the organization should sustainably manage its competitiveness in the areas of its core competence, as relevant to its present and future context.

The second article, Managing Risks: A New Framework by Robert S. Kaplan and Anette Mikes (June 2012 Issue of HBR), places the risk in a more broader perspective .

The article presents a new categorization of risk.

Category I: Preventable risks.

Category II: Strategy risks

Category III: External risks

The article goes onto examine the individual and organizational challenges inherent in generating open, constructive discussions about managing the risks related to strategic choices. The authors argue that companies need to anchor these discussions in their strategy formulation and implementation processes.

The authors caution the organizational leadership by bluntly stating that  managing risk is very different from managing strategy.

Active and cost-effective risk management requires managers to think systematically about the multiple categories of risks they face so that they can institute appropriate several and collectively interactive processes for each.

An approach based on adherence to minimum regulatory standards and avoidance of financial loss creates risk in itself. In a passive stance, companies cannot shape an optimal risk profile according to their business models nor adequately manage a fast-moving crisis.

In conclusion, the article looks at how organizations can identify and prepare for non-preventable risks that arise externally to their strategy and operations.

A thought provoking paper – Value and resilience through better risk management by Daniela Gius, Jean-Christophe Mieszala, Ernestos Panayiotou, and Thomas Poppensieker –  at Risk Insight studies by McKinsey and Compony provides a specific actionable perspective  –

More rigorous, debiased strategic decision making can enhance the longer-term resilience of a company’s business model, particularly in volatile markets or externally challenged industries..

Organizations need to manage their operations such that investments in product quality and safety/ environmental or societal expectations standards adopted by it can bring significant returns. And enable processes that are less prone to disruption when risks materialize.

To achieve standing among customers, employees, business partners, and the public, companies can apply ethical controls on corporate practices end to end.

Building robust, effective risk management is three-dimensional project: 1) the risk operating model, consisting of the main risk management processes; 2) a governance and accountability structure around these processes, leading from the business up to the board level; and 3) best-practice crisis preparedness, including a well-articulated response playbook if the worst case materializes..

Having accepted that uncertainty is a constant in business, robust risk management can help companies adapt and thrive. How risk management can turn a crisis into an opportunity is a re[presentative case study that demonstrates how using risk management processes and structures to identify and mitigate a wide variety of risks, even when what arises is not one of the feared scenarios, the business will be in a stronger position to respond to crisis and grow.

Risk Based Thinking and the risk management are very actively debated and documented topics in the management academics and the practice.

In a limited span of our present view, we recognize that by recommending these two additional readings –

To conclude, every organisation should see risk-based thinking as an opportunity and a step in the right direction of attaining the sustained success.

[N.B. – Detailed note on Risk Based Approach can be read / downloaded by clicking on the hyper link.]

We will now turn to our regular sections:

In the series the Organizational Culture, we have taken up  Organizational culture’s relationship with organization’s strategic direction. The critical message is that hat whatever form the relationship between organization’s culture and organization’s strategic direction shapes, in order to attain the sustained success, the culture and strategy should seamless aligned. .

We now watch ASQ TV, wherein we look at a few relevant videos from the archive:

  • Quality as Strategy – Greg Watson, ASQ past chair and ESTIEM professor, asks viewers if they believe there is, “a difference in having quality strategy or Quality as strategy?”

Jim L. Smith’s Jim’s Gems posting for May 2020 –

  • Growth – It is natural to focus on our strengths and pretend our weaknesses don’t exist. To grow, however, requires that we admit where we’re weak and then work to strengthen those aspects of our life – personal and professional…Choose to embrace and engage those opportunities now while placed in front of us. Embrace these opportunities even though they may seem a little uncomfortable….And as we grow, the positive possibilities will grow even more superlative in our world.

I look forward to your views / comments / inputs to further enrich the subjects of Basics of Quality and Organizational Culture and their role in Creating and Maintaining Sustained Success.

Note: The images depicted here above are through courtesy of respective websites who have the copyrights for the respective images.