Disrupting Corporate Culture

Book description

Research in cognitive science over the last 30 years shows much of what we know about culture in the business world is based on myth, wishful thinking, outdated science, or is just plain wrong. This is why culture-shaping and change programs in organizations often amount to little more than sloganeering with minimal impact on the lived experience of employees.

This book bridges the gap between the latest research on cognitive science and culture, providing a valuable guide for change leaders, CEOs, and practitioners on how to sustainably work with and change this important resource. It answers many of the major questions that have plagued culture work, such as:

  • Why so many CEOs and management consultants preach culture change when so few culture interventions actually succeed
  • Why CEOs persist in believing "culture starts at the top" when virtually no research in anthropology supports that claim

  • Why most culture shaping approaches have no answer for how to affect culture in global companies
  • Why culture doesn’t cause us to do anything, yet we persist in believing that somehow it does
  • Why so many culture-shaping projects focus on corporate values despite the fact modern science shows why changing personal values is exceedingly difficult

What we are learning about culture from the last 30 years of cognitive science gives us the foundation for far more impactful and sustainable interventions than have been possible to date. This book explains why, showing how everyday business practices well beyond HR are key to culture change. Why? Because the brain’s synaptic plasticity can only be altered through new sustained and widespread organizational habits and routines. This groundbreaking, practical guide will show you finally how to realize the full power of culture as a transformational, empowering, and competitive resource.

Table of contents

  1. Cover
  2. Endorsement
  3. Half-Title
  4. Title
  5. Copyright
  6. Contents
  7. Acknowledgments
  8. Introduction
  9. Chapter 1 The 5 Myths of Culture
    1. Your Platform Is Already Burning
    2. Myth 1: Culture Starts at the Top
      1. Value Engineering and Self-Enhancement
      2. It’s What Good Leaders Do
      3. Problem 1: Leaders Overestimate Their Own Influence
      4. Problem 2: Complex Change Does Not Happen through Individual Influence
      5. Problem 3: For a Leader’s Beliefs to Take Hold in the Organization, They Have to Be There to Begin With
      6. Problem 4: Culture Is Not the Sum of Personalities (The Leaders’ or Anyone Else)
      7. Problem 5: Language Alone Does Not Change Culture
      8. Leadership and Culture: There Is a Connection
    3. Myth 2: Culture Is a Physical Thing
      1. Problem: Culture Doesn’t Exist – or Does It?
      2. Culture Doesn’t Make Us Do Anything
    4. Myth 3: One Company, One Culture
      1. Problem 1: Cultural Boundaries Overlap
      2. Problem 2: Region, Nation, and Language
      3. Problem 3: Network Size Limits Culture
    5. Myth 4: Culture Is What We Say We Care About
      1. Problem 1: Norms Aren’t the Whole Story
      2. The Problem with Culture as Values
      3. Problem 1: “Values” Means Different Things to Different People
      4. Problem 2: Values Are Expectations, Not Behaviors
      5. Problem 3: Values Need to Be Already Socialized to Be Adopted
      6. Problem 4: Some Values Are Compensations for Deeper Cultural Forces
      7. Problem 5: Values Cannot Be Instilled by Telling People What to Value
      8. Lived Culture
    6. Myth 5: Culture Is Employee Well-Being
      1. Problem 1: Attitudes and Opinions Are Not Culture
      2. Problem 2: How We Behave Does Not Reflect How We Feel (or Think)
      3. Problem 3: Measuring Items Out of Range
      4. The Gap between Myth and Science
    7. Notes
  10. Chapter 2 What’s Wrong With Corporate Culture?
    1. The Great Reductions
      1. Reduction #1: The Problem in MBA Programs
        1. Outdated Theory, Problematic Assumptions, Leaps of Faith, and Anecdotes
        2. The Big Assumption: Culture Drives Business Performance
        3. Reducing Culture to a Dependent Variable
        4. Academic Myopia: Drawing From Too Few Wells
      2. Reduction #2: Dumbing Down for Business
        1. Reduction by Conflation: Culture as Employee Engagement and Well-Being
        2. Reduction by Compartmentalization: Culture as Employee Behavior
        3. Reduction by Coaching: Culture as What Leaders Should Do
    2. The Manager’s Dilemma
      1. A Better Way
    3. Notes
  11. Chapter 3 Where Culture Comes From
    1. Deep Structure
      1. The Cognitive Science of Culture: Executive Summary
    2. Culture Comes From Grounded Meaningful Experience
      1. It’s “Meaningful” Because It Worked
      2. Culture in the Brain, the Body, and the World
        1. Evidence From Neuroscience
        2. Evidence From Developmental Psychology
        3. Physiological and Kinesthetic Evidence
        4. Evidence From Cognitive Linguistics and Cognitive Psychology
        5. Socio-Cultural Evidence
    3. Culture Is Shared Knowledge
      1. Shared Dominant Logics: Transforming Experience into Basic Units of Culture
        1. Evidence for Schemas
        2. Shared Dominant Logics
      2. Making Sense: How SDLs Ground Culture
        1. From SDLs to Culture: Models for Making Sense
        2. Pervasive Forms: SDLs for Sense-Making and Structure
        3. We Think in Analogies
    4. Where Corporate Culture Comes From
      1. Doing Meaningful and Habitual Things: The Ground for Culture
        1. Professionalization
        2. Shared Task Solutions
        3. Differentiated Core Purpose
    5. Functionally Grounded Cultures
      1. The Reference System
        1. Practices and Adaptations
        2. Visible Culture
      2. Discrete Signatures
    6. Notes
  12. Chapter 4 Invisible Hands, Invisible Walls
    1. The Reference System in Action
      1. New Company, Old Grounding
      2. Trailblazing
        1. Into the Unthought Known
        2. Finding Culture in Talk
      3. Unthought Knowns
        1. Ethnographic Action Research
        2. Quantitative Analysis
      4. Results
      5. How These SDLs Make Up the Reference System
        1. Patterns in Practice
        2. Adaptations
    2. The I3 Reference System
      1. FINANCIAL PERFORMANCE FIRST
        1. How Does It Show Up? (Practices and Adaptations)
        2. When Overlearned …
        3. Where Does This SDL Come From?
      2. RULES and CERTAINTY
        1. How Does It Show Up? (Practices and Adaptations)
        2. When Overlearned …
        3. Where Do These SDLs Come From?
      3. MAKING THE ABSTRACT TANGIBLE
        1. How Does It Show Up? (Practices and Adaptations)
        2. When Overlearned …
        3. Where Does This SDL Come From?
      4. FIRST-HAND KNOWLEDGE
        1. How Does It Show Up? (Practices and Adaptations)
        2. When Overlearned …
        3. Where Does This SDL Come From?
      5. ACTION
        1. How Does It Show Up? (Practices and Adaptations)
        2. When Overlearned …
        3. Where Does This SDL Come From?
    3. The Reference System Supports … Until It Doesn’t
      1. Cultures Are “Perfect” …
      2. … Until They’re Not
      3. Digital Values and Practices
    4. Notes
  13. Chapter 5 Change the Practice, Change the Culture
    1. Reference Systems Hold Your Secrets
      1. Exploring One’s Reference System Is an Adaptive Challenge
    2. Changing Reference Systems: The Process Framework
      1. 1 : Define Principles (Values That Enable the Future)
      2. 2 : Gain Perspective (Seeing Dominant Logics and the Whole Reference System)
        1. Option 1: Full Research
        2. Option 2: Partial Research
        3. Option 3: Co-Creation (Reference System Reverse Engineering)
      3. 3 : Prioritize Practices
        1. Practice Areas
        2. Gaining Leverage: The Practice Prioritization Matrix
        3. Changing the I3s Reference System
        4. SDLs Targeted through Practices
      4. Getting More Radical: New Logics for a New Business
        1. Cultures Aren’t Blank Canvasses
        2. What Does Radical Inculcation Look Like? (It Looks Deliberately Developmental)
        3. What Is “Deliberately Developmental”?
        4. Deliberately Developmental Practices
    3. Changing Reference Systems: The Leadership Framework
      1. Holding Environments
        1. Creating Holding Environments
      2. Personal Leadership Orientations
    4. Notes
  14. Epilogue: The Way Forward
  15. References
  16. Index

Product information

  • Title: Disrupting Corporate Culture
  • Author(s): David G. White Jr
  • Release date: August 2020
  • Publisher(s): Productivity Press
  • ISBN: 9781000163094