What is "culture?" Patrick Dunn asks that question in Culture eats strategy for breakfast - yes! But let's be clear what culture is. I often talk about culture as a key element of knowledge management implementations as well as just about any other large change initiative. If the change and the culture clash, it is often the culture that wins out. But what do we mean by the idea of culture?
From Patrick's article, I liked the bullseye drawing that suggests many different ways to look at "culture" with the center being more stable and (probably) difficult to change. The graphic is his too, in case the formatting doesn't make that clear.
The diagram on the right is a simplified version of various theorists' views of what culture is (have a look at Trompenaars, Hofstede, Adler and others). It suggests that culture exists and operates at various levels. What's important in relation to social media is that, for example, an organisation can try to cultivate norms and behaviour in terms of social learning, and put in place the infrastructure to do so (i.e. the signs and symbols level); but if the fundamental beliefs in the organisation don't actively encourage social learning, it's all pointless.
I really like this last point. If the fundamental beliefs are out of line with the desired change, you are in for a real challenge. It isn't completely hopeless, but you have to be willing to dig a little deeper with your implementation. Specifically, how does The Change (whether it is a new software or new organizational structure or ...) relate to the core beliefs and values of the organization - of the people that form the organization? What do you need to modify about The Change to align better with those core beliefs? How can you modify the outer rings to align better with The Change?
[Found via a Shared item on Google Reader.]