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A leader (or leaders) imposes his/her own values and assumptions on a group. Assumptions become embedded in the organization and become the culture. The culture now defines leadership and sets the boundaries on what is acceptable. The organization may experience a changing environment and begin to realize that the current values and assumptions may no longer be totally appropriate. Now, the challenge for the leader and the organization is to start a process of evolutionary change that leads to change in the culture and values. The culture must be aligned with the new perceived realities. Cultural adaptation is a difficult challenge for leaders and organization members. It begins with an understanding of the dynamics of the present culture and the assumptions that are held by the members of the organization. Although leaders have an impact in culture, it is only a partial impact. Organizational culture results from a complex process of individual and group learning.
Culture defined: At the root of all views is that culture is shared or held in common within a social unit. Words that have been used in defining culture include language, customs, traditions, rituals, norms, values, philosophy, rules, climate, mental models, paradigms, shared meaning, accumulated learning. For many social groups, culture is what defines the group's reality. Culture allows us to create congruency with events and our assumptions.
Schein's Level of Culture
Implementation of a new strategy starts with an understanding of organizational culture and ends with a change in this culture to facilitate and embrace the strategy. Culture allows the adaptive behaviour by the organization necessary for strategy implementation. The cultural analysis allows us to identify the subculture dynamics, and by doing this we can identify the strategy-critical elements that need to be dealt with for a successful implementation. A strategy cannot be successfully implemented without understanding the culture of the organization, since the culture of the organization constitutes the main opposition to implementation. With a few minor exceptions, organizational change means cultural change.
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