April 2014 – Culture

Every organization has a culture which could be negative or positive. Often the culture has existed for many years and can be very difficult to change. The table below shows many of the cultures we have seen in our various studies and suggestions to change the culture.

Existing Culture Suggested Culture
Stay in your own lane Make connections out of your lane. Respect the other specialists but challenge them and suggest alternatives when their recommendations don’t seem to build a better community.
Staff aggressively coordinates functions and works out any issues between divisions or specialists.
Communication primarily takes place within the division and respects the chain of command Staff is encouraged and free to talk to anyone both within and outside the division or department. As Iacocca said in Chrysler, anyone is authorized to talk to anyone else in the company.
Applicants need to meet our regulations We look to interpretations of the regulations to build a better community. We are problem solvers.
We are specialists and have veto power over the application We work cooperatively and as a team with all other specialists to arrive at a corporate decision, i.e. what is good for the community. We recognize that if each specialist has a veto power, it may be impossible to effectively build the community. When we can’t reach agreement we take it up the chain of command.
We feel free to add new review and conditions each cycle of review We do a comprehensive review the 1st time and don’t add new items unless serious health or safety issues arise.
We meet timelines when we can We meet all timelines at least 90% of the time.
We use the same timeline for each cycle of review We cut the timeline in half for each cycle of review
We treat each customer and each project the same We recognize that each customer and each project is different.
 We answer phone calls and emails whenever we have time but try to meet within 24 hours We don’t leave the office at night until we have returned all phone calls and emails
We don’t always identify ourselves We always give our name and make certain anyone we talk to in the office leaves with one of our business cards
We looked bored or preoccupied We smile and say how can I help you.
We don’t care what customers think of our services We encourage customer criticism and embrace it as an opportunity to improve
We shun and punish staff innovators as “boat-rockers” We encourage innovation and don’t punish good efforts that fail
We place our new or least qualified staff in the position to greet and advised the public We make a good first impression by assigning experienced staff to the front counter positions


I would like to expand this list so give me your additions and suggestions.

the Management Doctor

Reader Responses

First your listings old culture world point across the board, it was helpful to see it in the form of point-counterpoint. For your consideration.

Existing Culture: We always act professionally or we always deal with our customers in a professional manner. 

Suggested Culture: We empathize with our customer’s issues and problems with the regulatory process, fully engaging with each.

Supplementary comment – rethink the term “customers.” They are not customers as they do not have the opportunity to go elsewhere and “shop” for the best regulatory deal. Instead consider them as they are – residents and business persons enter in the community we serve. They should be embraced not given a perfunctory handshake.

J. Wayne Oldroyd


I see the following as a new organizational culture:

Existing Culture: We primarily communicate with our co-workers through email

Suggested Culture: Whenever possible we approach our co-workers for face-to-face communication.

Kathleen Kline-Hudson