Book Review: Organisation Culture – Getting it Right

Author: Naomi Stanford

This book on corporate culture is intended for managers and business people who are struggling to:
a) Understand the culture of their organization
b) Get a grip on why it matters
c) Get their culture right for their business strategy
d) Avoid the common mistakes of “culture change”
e) Keep their culture from getting stuck

In the preface of this book the author Naomi Stanford, an organization design consultant,  describes how she went about writing this book. She first sent an e-mail to everyone in her address book spelling out clearly what sort of readers the book was intended for . She also asked them to respond with three questions they would like to be answered through the book. She received hundreds of questions in response which she categorized under the following chapters of this book:

  • What is organization culture?
  • Can culture be measured?
  • Does culture matter?
  • Is culture related to business success?
  • Culture: creation, accountability and responsibility
  • What is the right organization culture?
  • Can culture be created, changed, or protected?
  • Can culture be learned?

While writing the book, Stanford did her best to ensure that all the questions raised by the individuals who responded were addressed.

Apart from  examples and experiences drawn from several organizations and individuals, each chapter has a detailed case study which discusses an organization’s approach to its culture. The lessons one can learn from these approaches have been succinctly summarized.  Case studies are drawn from – McDonalds, Zappos, IKEA, W.L. Gore & Associates, Toyota, Reckitt Benckiser, Ford. In addition there is also a case study on how Nik, an individual went about learning the culture of an organization he worked for in China.

A very valuable section in this book is an appendix consisting of a series of eight exercises (one for each chapter) which help an organization/individual to :

  • Compile a short,  realistic guide that would help a visitor or a newcomer to an organization to understand something about its culture.
  • Develop their own measurement process and metrics to measure or assess their culture.
  • Get insights and practice in recognizing the characteristics that contribute to make their culture distinctive and value adding.
  • Make connections between business success and culture.
  • Create discussion about clarifying the accountability and responsibility for organization culture.
  • Learn how to respond to different types of  cultural environments
  • Plan for culture change without announcing and launching a formal change program
  • Consider how they read cultural values and what type of organization they would feel more comfortable joining.

As intended by the author, this book provides a very common-sense, practical, realistic  and pragmatic approach towards understanding and working with organization culture.

Though the first few pages were slightly dull, the book became progressively more interesting and as a whole turned out to be an excellent and enlightening read.

Highly recommend it as “the first book one should read about Organization Culture” !

Publication Details: Published:2010; Publisher: Profile Books Ltd. ; Paperback: 288 pages.



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