Effective organizations know that culture matters – and more, that culture can be managed or, perhaps better put, nurtured. We can be intentional about encouraging a culture that is congruent with organizational mission and identity so that we are able to speak about what it “feels” like to work at or be part of this organization. And the language of affect is used intentionally.
Crucially, institutional culture needs to be characterized by a hopeful realism – not mere optimism, not a pseudo culture of mere sentimentality, but a dynamic capacity for seeing and naming reality that is matched by the possibilities of change, growth and innovation. A hopeful realism.
It means leaning into the best of one’s institutional culture: those elements that foster and encourage this hopeful realism.
And it means “starving” those elements – sometimes pathological elements – of the culture that undercut the capacity of the organization to flourish: to get things done, and to learn and grow and embrace the future.
Gordon T. Smith, Institutional Intelligence. IVPress, 2017. Chapter 7.
Edgar H. Schen, Organizational Culture and Leadership (2nd ed.). Jossey-Bass, 1992