Saturday, April 11, 2015

Committing to a Shift in Culture

After completing this week’s readings, I am most excited to reflect upon the way that teams and technology can transform organizational culture. The following quote from Evans and Alire (2013) stood out to me:
Traditional workplace behavior, at least in the United States, has a strong element of competition and a low emphasis on cooperation/collaboration. Team-based work calls for just the opposite behavior; it takes time for team members to develop the change in focus. (p. 346)
The reason why this struck me is because it focuses on how team-based work represents a fundamental cultural shift from competition to collaboration. Evans and Alire continued to explain that in order for this new way of working to be successful, an organization needs to invest time and training into efforts. In other words, successful teamwork requires both intention and focused attention; it requires commitment.

When looking further at teams within the virtual realm, the article that stood out to me was Guenard, Katz, Bruno, and Lipa’s piece “Enabling a New Way of Working through Inclusion and Social Media.” In this article, I found similar themes resonating through their emphasis on the disruptive nature of social media technology and how it may enable “the democratization of knowledge” (2013, p. 9). Just as Evans and Alire wrote about how team-based work requires a new mode of working, Guenard et al. provided helpful tables outlining how virtual collaboration requires new “mindsets and behaviors” (p. 12).



Mindful that the cultural shift of collaboration does not occur without commitment, I also enjoyed another figure provided by Guenard et al. that demonstrates how internalization is a process that takes time and effort. I think that members of an organization may often be too quick to judge efforts as unsuccessful or as having little impact when the potential value of an ”energized human network” has not yet been given the chance to be fully realized (Guenard et al., 2013, p. 14). Thus, there must be acceptance that cultural change takes time and effort at the same time that time and effort is actively dedicated to supporting the change. Using a model such as the figure below may help organizations identify where they stand on the continuum of change so that they may remain committed and best direct efforts to move closer to their goal.


A final point in closing is that commitment does not mean just giving more time and effort. Time and effort must be allocated and applied in ways that are meaningful and effective. I think a good example of this is how, with the best intentions, an organization may try to support employees with a program such recognizing standout individuals (e.g., Employee of the Month programs) when this is actually counterproductive to building a team-based culture. Commitment must be thoughtful, and organizations must be equipped to reflectively evaluate progress when determining next steps for continuing progress.


Evans, G.E., & Alire, C.A. (2013). Management basics for information professionals (3rd ed.).  New York: Neal-Schuman.

Guenard, R., Katz, J., Bruno, S., & Lipa, M. (2013). Enabling a New Way of Working through Inclusion and Social Media: A Case Study. OD Practitioner, 45(4), 9-16.

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