J.D. Meier's Blog

Software Engineering, Project Management, and Effectiveness

Results, Social, and Process Lens for Organizational Culture

Results, Social, and Process Lens for Organizational Culture

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I've been sharing this lens with some of the people I mentor and they've been finding it helpful.  It's a simple lens for looking at the organizational culture you’re in and helping make sense of what you see:

  • Results - This is a focus on results (what, why, outcomes, measures/metrics, tests for success, scorecards, etc.)
  • Social - This is a focus on the people (It's who knows who, friends, enemies, politics, and agendas, etc.)
  • Process - This is a focus on the process of things (how, charters, roles, policies, procedures, etc.)

You can usually get a sense for what an organization values by looking to the writing on the wall.  The key word here is “valued.”  You need to know what’s valued so that you can tailor your behavior and expectations for the context.  It helps you more effectively adapt your behavior, adjust the situation, or avoid situations with skill.

The ideal scenario is a balance of the results + social + process.   In my experience, I’ve found that usually an organization tends to be out of balance – they lean more towards one end than another.   Here are some of the symptoms you see when an organization is skewed toward one end:

  • Too much “Results” focus -- leaves too many wakes and a trail of bodies
  • Too much “Social” focus -- turns into the “old-boys club”, “mafia management”, favors, and back-door deals.
  • Too much “Process” focus -- comes at the expense of good people, death by 1000 paper cuts.

When you know the context of the org you are in, you know what counts and what does not.  This helps you reshape your expectations and your behavior accordingly which leads to your success.