Umbrellas for Forecasting Organizational Culture and Climate
Some images are mind-provoking. The ideas of this buzz were inspired by two photos: the weather-forecasting umbrella and umbrella stands.
The weather-forecasting umbrella is handy and smart. By connecting its handle to weather stations it can tell by displaying one of three main colors. When you walk toward the door to leave for the day it switches on the appropriate color — green for clear, blue for raining, and red for storming. So, you decide if you need to take your umbrella or not before leaving indoors. The handle is easy to remove from the umbrella to protect it from thieves.
You may wish to watch the video below to know more about weather-forecasting umbrellas.
A new approach is to have stands that do the same function as the umbrella handle. The stands do the same job as the handles of the umbrella do. This way you don't need to carry the expensive handle with you.
The question that crossed my mind was if the organizations could develop similar interactive umbrellas or stands to forecast the business climate. Equally important is predicting the climate within the organization. If this climate is stormy as evidenced by stands showing red color then we may tell that this organization is going to lose its talented employees and shall experience high turn-over rates. The employees shall be disengaged.
There are voluminous studies on the issue of business climates and their connection to the prevailing culture within an organization. I find myself asking if business culture is weather-like and the prevailing moods in organizations represent the prevailing climate within these organizations. NASA defines the difference between weather and climate is a measure of time. Weather is what conditions of the atmosphere are over a short period of time, and climate is how the atmosphere "behaves" over relatively long periods of time. Culture is a complex issue like weather and over long periods of time we get repeating patterns that act as attractors and shape the behavior of employees in these organizations. Even though the umbrella shows red color because of increased global competition, varying customers' moods and expectations and the rapidity of technological breakthroughs; still these organizations live in the past and stick to what they do best. The management fails to see it is stormy outside as the management prefers to keep doing what the organization does best- but only to vanish from the markets. The management wouldn't risk changing what it has been successful at and run the risk of changing their work focus. The indoor umbrella shows it stormy outside and the only solution acceptable is to stay indoors till a hurricane swaps the whole organization.
Organizations need to juggle many balls at the same time. Surely among them are the culture, structure and the leadership of an organization. Organizations need to make serious efforts to change culture while seeking to improve the climate of business. The management has to realize that the structure of the organization is very crucial because it is more difficult to juggle balls when standing on glassy structures. Rigid structures will only lead to increased stress and lowering creativity to generate creative solutions to the ever-changing climates outdoors.
Not all balls are the same. Some balls will break into pieces if allowed to fall down. Some balls are resilient and rubber-like. Other balls are tiny because they have low priorities.
The Organizational Climate Survey (OCS) is based on work begun at Harvard University by psychologists Litwin and Stringer. They identified six parameters to determine the climate prevailing in an organization. These are
1. Clarity: everyone in the organization knows what is expected of them
2. Standards: challenging but attainable goals are set
3. Responsibility: employees are given authority to accomplish tasks
4. Flexibility: there are no unnecessary rules, policies and procedures
5. Rewards: employees are recognized and rewarded for good performance
6. Team Commitment: people are proud to belong to the organization
There are six balls to juggle to improve organizational climate, which feedback on organizational culture and vice versa.
Can we have an umbrella to forecast the climate within organizations and more importantly how this climate may be related to the weather of organizations (cultures)? Like we may predict to some extent the weather we need to have color-coded indicators for in-house weather. In a constantly changing world no organization may afford to stand the same.
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