jueves, 30 de abril de 2015

To which I shoot: culture or climate?

¿A que le apunto: al clima o la cultura?

(si deseas leer la versión en español de esta nota, por favor deja un comentario. Saludos )
This type of question is not infrequent. It might be confusing if your definitions and measures of culture or climate are vague or extremely qualitative. But let us assume the issue of definitions and measures of climate and culture has been agreed, solved and settled. The facts are that there are several research reports demonstrating that organizational culture has impacts on several measures of organizational performance. But, you can also find facts based results demonstrating that organizational climate has impacts on organizational performance.

Consider the impacts of organizational climate demonstrated by Lars Putter in 2010 (Organizational Climate and Performance: The relation between organizational climate and performance. Delft University of Technology). By using well defined measures, he showed that general organizational climate and specific aspects of organizational climate have statistical significant effects on 5 measures of performance – none of them to ignore. For example, total climate had significant effects on: profitability, sustainability and growth, EBIT margin and productivity. Of course not all impacts have the same magnitude nor the same amount of variance is explained.

One of his findings is relevant for us. Citing Putter: “Regarding the influence of the separate climate aspects … Profitability is most affected by clarity, and least affected by innovation perception. If the business goals and objectives are clear to employees and they know what their role is in reaching these business goals, profitability of the operating company seems to be higher.” Similarly he showed that management support is a main determinant of clarity (of goals and direction).

Somebody else could have used a measure of organizational culture and come to a similar conclusion regarding the relationship between clarity (of goals and direction) and performance. As a matter of fact, organizational culture diagnosis tools such as de DOCS tools could provide similar data and Denison himself has published similar results from a culture perspective. (Denison et al (2012). Leading Culture Change in Global Organizations . San Francisco, California, California, EUA: Jossey-Bass)

But then assume you are reported that clarity of goals and direction is weak and falling in your organization or parts of it. Do you focus this issue as a matter of culture or as an issue of climate? And you may know now, that this situation may affect your business performance.
There is not a single answer to this. You may focus this as a climate issue and then plan quick actions to find what are you managers not doing or doing very badly as far as setting goals and providing the necessary directions.

But if you focus this as a culture issue you better find answer to questions such as: How are mangers becoming managers? Are we managing managers properly? What kind of barriers, incentives and rituals have we created to improve or damage management relations with the rest of the organizations? Do we have a shared vision and common values? And so on. But then again, you will need to plan for change – probably on a different dimension of time, scope and involvement.

So the point again: it is not irrelevant to choose climate or culture as your framework.