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Narratives of Culture: 1st movement

By Dave Snowden  ·  February 23, 2015  ·  Reflections

One of the problems with cultural surveys in organiations is that they tend to be evaluative in nature.   The same issue applies to 360 feedback, employee satisfaction survenys and the like.  With the best of intentions they want to know what people think about the organisation.  The problem is that evaluation closes down options and also can create stress or gaming behaviour.  

In addition the process of evaluation is itself problematic as it focuses people on a single act of judgement with a singple focus.   That moves away from...

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Narratives of culture: the score

By Dave Snowden  ·  February 22, 2015  ·  Reflections

This is going to be a little out of sequence, but I want to come to how we gather narrative for the new culture scans in future posts.   Suffice it to say for the moment that this uses SenseMaker® and a non-hypothesis question that can be asked of the whole workforce or just a sample: What story would you tell your best friend if they were thinking of joining your workgroup?   The employee then interprets that story using a series of signifiers that provide quantitive data, but at any stage we can look at the stories from which the...

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Narratives of culture: overture

By Dave Snowden  ·  February 21, 2015  ·  Reflections

There are some basic truths about culture in organisations that are pretty self-evident to anyone prepared to engage with either theory or practice.  The first and most basic of those is that you can't engineer it or for that matter define it as a set of desirable qualities, values or any other loose collection of platitudes.  In many ways the cultural engineering approaches that typify many a consultancy method have simply responded to the wider engineering metaphor that requires pre-defined outcomes.  In practice movements and...

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Lines in the sands of time

By Dave Snowden  ·  February 19, 2015  ·  Reflections

Up to Hull today to deliver my first lecture tomorrow in what I hope will be a long term relationship.   Yasmin Merali has moved there from Warwick and my loyalties have moved with her, although I am still to lecture on their MBA programme this year.    Yasmin is an old and loyal friend.   Unlike the Prof at Surrey University she stayed with me during the dead-john-years in IBM (I may tell that story one day, but it was nasty, brutish and short) at some cost.  She also introduced me to Max Boisot for which the debt is beyond my...

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Another Drucker memory

By Dave Snowden  ·  February 14, 2015  ·  Reflections

My other vivid memory of Peter Drucker (and it still hurts) was when I naively criticised Taylorism and ended up on the receiving end of an I knew Frederick Taylor response during which I was reduced to a puddle of humiliation.   The great man decided I might be redeemable, something for which I am eternally grateful and the leadership seminar I mentioned yesterday was one response.   That meant I got a chance to teach complexity theory with Drucker (and I suspect that is a unique) and to talk about the relationship to other...

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